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Trump executive order imperils several New Mexico National Monuments

As expected, President Donald Trump issued an executive order Wednesday instructing the Department of the Interior to review all national monuments protected in the last 21 years.

This could impact Organ Mountains and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments, established in 2014 and 2013 respectively. Both national monuments are important economic drivers for the local community, providing tourism and jobs. What’s more, national monuments and other protected public lands provide gateway communities with a competitive edge in attracting employees and businesses. The order could ultimately upend protections for millions of acres of public lands across the country.

It appears the executive order is part of an assault on America’s national monuments and the conservation legacy of the Antiquities Act, signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect America’s land, water, and history for more than one hundred years. But various interest  groups, including oil and gas companies, mining companies and some sportsmen and law enforcement agencies, want restrictions on use of the monument acreage removed.

No president has ever attempted to eliminate an existing national monument and boundary changes have never been challenged in court. Some legal experts argue that the president does not have the authority to eliminate national monuments. New Mexico’s senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, issued statements strenuously objecting to the executive order, but Congressman Steve Pearce, representing the 2nd Congressional District, expressed support for the reviw.

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