"5 Members Of Congress Who Oppose National Monuments But Love To Pose For Photos In Them"
If it’s August, there’s a good chance you’ll spot Members of Congress outside, celebrating a new wildlife refuge they helped create, pushing for the expansion of a wilderness area in their district, exploring America’s newest national monument, or encouraging people to visit the national parks in their state.
But this summer, you won’t just find lawmakers who support land conservation out and about in parks and public lands. Instead, it now seems that even those politicians who fervently oppose protecting America’s iconic landscapes just can’t resist having their pictures taken in them.
Below, we highlight five Members of Congress who are fighting to overturn the Antiquities Act of 1906, standing in the way of new wilderness protections, gutting funding for national parks, and working to sell off public lands. Yet, without any apparent sense of hypocrisy, these same members are eager to “show off” these “cool” places on their websites and to the cameras that are rolling back home.
1. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Earlier this year, Bishop stalled the bill to designate Tule Springs, an area north of Las Vegas known for its expansive fossil beds, as Nevada’s first national monument. Yet, just a month later, Bishop could be found touring the area, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal that “this is cool.”
Bishop, a key supporter of the radical idea that Western states should seize federal public lands away from U.S. taxpayers, has a long record of blocking new federal land protections. He also authored the bill passed by the House in March to reduce the president’s authority to designate national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
2. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Chaffetz, author of a bill to sell off more than three million acres of public lands including more than 132,000 acres in Utah, spent some quality time this summer in one of Utah’s most iconic national parks. Trading visits to each other’s districts, the Congressman took Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings on a tour of Arches National Park. Reporting on the tour, the Moab Sun News described them as the “Congressional odd-couple.”
Chaffetz was also an original cosponsor of Rep. Bishop’s bill to amend the Antiquities Act, calling the Act a “misguided and outdated law that lends itself to abuse by the Executive Branch.” However, Arches National Park, which is featured prominently on the homepage of Chaffetz’s website, was originally protected as a national monument by President Herbert Hoover in 1929 under the authority of the Antiquities Act.
3. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
An outspoken opponent of the Antiquities Act and also an original co-sponsor of Rep. Bishop’s bill to amend it, Gosar stated in a press release that “there is a long and shameful list of abuses of the Antiquities Act whereby Presidents of both parties far exceeded the intent and letter of the law.”
Despite his statement about the “lists of abuses” under the Act, Gosar has touted his connection to the Grand Canyon on social media, even celebrating the anniversary last year of its creation under the Antiquities Act. The Grand Canyon was originally protected as a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 before becoming a national park in 1919.
4. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT)
As a freshman Congressman, Stewart has been aggressive opponent of public lands protections. Running for Congress in 2012 on a platform advocating for the seizure of public lands or their sale to energy developers, Stewart also signed on as an original cosponsor of Bishop’s bill to amend the Antiquities Act.
Nonetheless, Stewart touts Utah’s national parks and treasured outdoor landscapes as part of his outreach to constituents. “One of the many reasons I love Utah, is because of the beautiful mountains, scenery and national parks,” Stewart posted on his Facebook page in August. And with the headline, “Aren’t Utah summers the best?” Stewart also posted a #TBT photo of his family hiking in Zion National Park, which was originally protected under the Antiquities Act by President William Howard Taft in 1909 and later by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.
5. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)
Finally, ten-term Congressman Hastings has consistently opposed the creation of any new protections on public lands; in particular, Hastings objects to any use of the Antiquities Act. In a press release, Hastings stated that, ”the Imperial President strikes again,” after President Obama’s designation of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peak National Monument earlier this year.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rep. Hastings “bitterly opposed President Clinton’s 2000 designation of a Hanford Reach National Monument,” and yet, Hastings features the Monument prominently on the homepage of his congressional website.
Claire Moser is the Research and Advocacy Associate with the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. You can follow her on Twitter at @Claire_Moser.