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Move to Restrict President's Power to Create National Monuments Defeated

Nevada's Basin and Range National Monument was created last year by President Obama under the Antiquities Act. (Bureau of Land Management)
Nevada's Basin and Range National Monument was created last year by President Obama under the Antiquities Act. (Bureau of Land Management)
February 3, 2016

CARSON CITY, Nev. - A move to gut the Antiquities Act and effectively block a U.S. president from declaring new national monuments died in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

The president now has the power to create a national monument by executive order. The Senate defeated an amendment to the energy bill that would have made all new national-monument designations temporary, for three years, and subject to approval by Congress and the appropriate state legislature.

David Von Seggern, who chairs the executive committee of the Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter, said he's glad the Senate rejected the move.

"It's important that a president have this power because, when he does this, he's speaking for all the American people that own these lands," he said. "These lands are already federal lands, and they're receiving an extra level of protection."

President Obama created the 1100 square mile Basin and Range national monument last year. Von Seggern said the monument was opposed by several of Nevada's elected representatives in Washington who support more energy development on federal lands.

"The Basin and Range National Monument was controversial, and our state federal legislators were not bringing it forward for national monument status," he said, "so, the president used his power from the Antiquities Act to designate that."

The Antiquities Act was created in 1906 under President Theodore Roosevelt and has been used equally by Democratic and Republican presidents. Grand Canyon and Grand Teton national parks both started as national monuments created under the Antiquities Act.

The amendment text is online at congress.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV