September 21, 1999
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1487, as reported by the Committee
on Resources, because the bill represents an unwarranted incursion upon
established presidential authority to protect significant natural,
prehistorical, historical, and scientific resources on federal lands. If
H.R. 1487 is presented to the President, his senior advisers will recommend
that he veto the bill.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President, at his discretion, to declare federal lands to be national monuments. Over the course of this century, every President but three has employed this authority to protect sites across this country -- from the Statue of Liberty, New York, to the coastal redwood stands of Muir Woods, California -- that now are acknowledged to be the Nation's most treasured places. Historically, Presidents have invoked the Act's authorities to protect areas that faced imminent threat. While some of these declarations have stirred local opposition -- notably President Theodore Roosevelt's declaration of the Grand Canyon National Monument, Arizona -- and others have caused Congress to consider amending the 1906 Act -- such as President Franklin Roosevelt's declaration of Jackson Hole National Monument, Wyoming, now part of Grand Teton National Park -- history soundly refutes any suggestion that this unique presidential authority has been abused.
H.R. 1487 would impose procedural and notification requirements and other limitations that would undermine the President's authority to move decisively to protect and preserve the Nation's treasures for future generations. Any diminutions of the President's authority would be contrary to the Act's spirit and protective purposes.