SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Murkowski and Sullivan Fight Unilateral Land and Water Blocks by Executive Use of Antiquities Act


February 12, 2015
Thursday AM

(SitNews) Washington, D. C. - Wednesday, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act legislation that would prohibit any White House from unilaterally designating national monuments on federal lands and waters under a century-old measure called the Antiquities Act without Congressional approval and the approval of affected state’s legislatures.

This legislative action followed the recent Aleutians Marine Sanctuary nomination, submitted just before Christmas , that put Alaska’s coastal communities and fishing industry on high alert and concerned about the impact designating 550,000 square nautical miles of federal waters north and south of the Aleutian Islands from commercial activity would have on their way of life and opportunities for economic development.

The Aleutians Marine Sanctuary was proposed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and several Alaska and national marine conservation organizations on Dec. 22nd. The nomination of the area as a marine sanctuary was rejected by NOAA on Jan. 26th as being insufficient for not reflecting “community interests” or “support from the federal and state agencies listed as potential management partners.”

After receiving the letter of rejection from NOAA, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said the only path to obtain permanent federal protection for Alaska waters may be designation of the region as a national monument by President Obama using his powers under the Antiquities Act.

Aleutian Islands Proposed National Marine Sanctuary. The nomination was rejected by NOAA on January 26, 2015.

While the threat of a marine sanctuary designation was averted for now, Senator Murkowski remains concerned by the possibility that President Obama could still move unilaterally to create a national monument in the same area using his powers under the Antiquities Act.

“It is clear that this White House is more concerned with securing its environmental legacy than protecting the economic well-being of Alaskans,” said Murkowski, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Co-Chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. “My legislation is designed to make sure economic activity like fishing and responsible resource development is not put at risk – and family incomes damaged – by a stroke of the President’s pen.”

“How we develop and harvest America’s land and water is an area where Congress and the people, not the executive branch – has preeminent authority,” said Sullivan. “This legislation will put a check on the Obama administration’s war on Alaska families and the middle class. Though it may be an inconvenient truth to this President, the citizens on the ground who live day in and day out with his fiats deserve to be heard.”

The bill would require for any national monument proposed on public land or within the exclusive economic zone that the following requirements be met:

  • Specific authorization by an Act of Congress;
  • Approval by the state legislature, and for marine monuments, approval by each state legislature within 100 miles of the proposed monument; and
  • Application of the National Environmental Policy Act.
    NOAA Rejects Aleutian Islands Sanctuary Marine Proposal

Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Related News:

ALEUTIANS PROPOSED TO BE ALASKA'S FIRST NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY - The Aleutian Islands marine ecosystem deserves designation as Alaska’s first National Marine Sanctuary, according to a formal nomination spearheaded by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and several Alaska and national marine conservation organizations. Although more than half of Alaska’s lands receive permanent federal protection, virtually none of Alaska’s federal waters receive comparable protective status. - More...
SitNews - January 05, 2015

Full text of nomination:

Aleutians East Borough Assembly Passes Resolution Opposing Nomination for Aleutian Islands Marine Sanctuary - Thursday, the Aleutians East Borough (AEB) Assembly unanimously passed a resolution in favor of opposing the recent nomination of the Aleutian Islands as a national marine sanctuary. - More...
SitNews - January 10, 2015

NOAA SHIES AWAY FROM ALEUTIANS MARINE SANCTUARY - proposal to name the Aleutian Islands marine ecosystem as Alaska’s first National Marine Sanctuary has run aground on local political opposition, according to a letter from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, PEER says the only path to obtain permanent federal protection for Alaska waters may be designation as a national monument by President Obama using his powers under the Antiquities Act. - More...
SitNews - February 04, 2015

NOAA Letter to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Source of News: 

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Office of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

About: "PEER is a non-profit, national environmental watchdog organization whose mission is to protect public employees who protect the environment by assisting and advocating on behalf of public employees in government pollution control and resource management agencies. Because government scientists, lawyers, regulators, law enforcement officials, engineers, land and wildlife managers, etc. are on the front lines of environmental protection, yet often work in politically-driven agencies where there is little tolerance for dissent, PEER helps environmentally ethical public employees police their agencies, expose and challenge bad decision-making, and work for reform."

Washington, D.C. Staff

PEER Board

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