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Tribes and Community Witnesses Call Out Trump Admin Over Illegal Monument Cuts at Natural Resources Hearing, Highlight Fossil Fuel Considerations | The House Committee on Natural Resources


Washington, D.C. – At yesterday’s Natural Resources Committee hearing examining the inadequate review and improper alteration of Utah’s national monuments, Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and committee Democrats heard from tribal and Southern Utah community witnesses who emphasized the Trump administration’s failure to gather public input from a meaningful range of stakeholders, including those who supported maintaining full monument status, or to conduct any genuine review process before illegally shrinking Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly 50 percent. 

Video of the hearing is available at

The Department of the Interior (DOI) received more than 2.8 million public comments on its illegal decision to shrink Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, with the overwhelming majority – including from local business owners and Native American tribal members – rejecting any changes. As the Committee heard today, the land protected by the original Bears Ears National Monument includes historically significant property, dwellings, artifacts and other cultural resources sacred to several regional Native American tribes. At the same time, Southern Utah communities rely on these national monuments for their local economies as part of the multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation economy, and

Nationally, the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs. Following the decision to shrink both Utah national monuments, nearly 600 businesses from across the country signed a letter opposing changes to any national monuments. At today’s hearing, Dana Waggoner, the owner of Escalante Outfitters, stressed the importance of protected public lands for business owners.

Committee Democrats scrutinized Trump’s executive order shrinking the sites, in part by highlighting how closely the effort aligned with coal, uranium and other fossil fuel industry interests. Unredacted transcripts of federal employee interviews, highlighted in a DOI inspector general report discussed at the hearing, strongly suggest that the Trump administration “review process” had a predetermined outcome and relied on fossil fuel industry considerations rather than the best historic and environmental science.

Tribal Statements on Lack of Administration Consultation in Utah

“Congressional oversight of President Trump’s unlawful action is long overdue. Trump violated more than just the Antiquities Act. His monument review violated the United States treaty and trust relationship to the Ute Indian Tribe and the other Bears Ears Tribes. We have a government-to- government relationship with the United States. Laws, Executive Orders and Interior’s own Tribal Consultation Policy required full consultation with us in the review of the Bears Ears National Monument. This never happened. President Obama’s Proclamation establishing the Bears Ears National Monument and its tribally led Bears Ears Commission recognized that Indian lands, resources and sacred sites extend far beyond reservation boundaries. He recognized that these important and valuable natural and cultural resources are best managed in a partnership that would provide lasting benefits and opportunities. A partnership between sovereign nations.” – Tony Small, Vice Chairman, Ute Indian Tribe

“Though once inhabited and used exclusively by tribes in the southwest, Zuni recognizes that the Bears Ears lands are now federal lands, owned by all Americans.  And we want its stunning landscape and special places preserved so that all of us, including future generations, can enjoy it and learn about its unique past.  It cannot be seriously debated that the five tribes have unique connections to, knowledge of, and perspectives on Bears Ears, and our perspectives should be recognized and given meaningful voice. Unfortunately, the expedited planning process that BLM and Forest Service are currently conducting has not included meaningful consultation with us.” – Carleton Bowekaty, Lieutenant Governor, Pueblo of Zuni

“The Bears Ears region is immensely important to the Hopi Tribe. It is a part of our history and who we are as a people. We have worked since time immemorial to uphold our sacred covenant to protect the land by serving as stewards of the Earth and continue to do so today in opposing any efforts to abolish and reduce the Bears Ears National Monument.” – Clark W. Tenakhongva, Vice Chairman, The Hopi Tribe

Media Highlights

Chairman Grijalva opening statement 

Representative Haaland remarks

Representative Neguse remarks

Representative Levin remarks


Press Contact

Adam Sarvana

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile

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