WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Blake Moore (R-UT), today met with senior officials at the Department of Interior to encourage the Biden administration to work with Congress toward a permanent legislative solution that resolves the boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Following their meeting, they released this joint statement:
“We appreciated the opportunity to express our desire for a permanent legislative solution that reflects state, local, and tribal input, resolves the status of these iconic national monuments, and brings certainty to land management in our state. During the meeting, we reiterated our concerns that the Biden administration’s review may result in further unilateral executive action, which will not resolve longstanding boundary or access issues. We urged the administration to instead engage state, local, and tribal leaders to develop a solution which is supported by the State of Utah and tribal governments, and codified by Congress. Because the state and delegation are willing to collaborate on an inclusive legislative solution, we believe it would be inappropriate for the administration to proceed with a unilateral executive action until there is sufficient time to negotiate broadly supported compromise legislation. The Utah Congressional Delegation looks forward to speaking with President Biden about a legislative approach that puts an end to the political back-and forth of Utah’s monuments.”
Last week, the entire Utah congressional delegation sent a letter to President Biden requesting the administration’s support in finding a permanent legislative solution for determining appropriate boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, as well as statutory protections to prevent abuses under the Antiquities Act. It also requests that President Biden extend the 60-day review period timeline in order to allow the Secretary of the Interior time to travel to Utah, tour the monuments in question, and receive input from local stakeholders. After President Biden issued the January Executive Order, the delegation urged the administration to work with Congress toward a permanent legislative solution to the boundaries.