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Image from Grand Teton National Park with TR quote.
The House voted today to undo what they can of President Teddy Roosevelt's legacy. They voted to pass the "Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act," their effort to make sure that no more land worth saving from mining, drilling, logging or fracking is indeed saved through executive action. It passed, of course, 222-201, but is unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is reason number infinity why we need the Senate.

Back in 1906, Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, which gives the president the power to designate significant cultural, historical or ecological sites—which are already public land—as monuments. Since then, 16 presidents (evenly divided by part) have protected sites like the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Muir Woods and Olympic national parks through the monument designation. These places eventually became national parks through congressional action, but were preserved thanks to the Antiquities Act.

They didn't do this just because they hate protected public land. They also did it because they hate the fact that President Obama has the power—which every president before him since Teddy Roosevelt has had—to designate protected land without giving them the opportunity to derail his efforts. Of course, why they say they're doing it is because the president can act unilaterally, without public input, and because of the terrible economic impact these protected lands have.

Both of which are bullshit. The public loves national parks and monuments and thinks it's government's job to protect public land, to the tune of almost 90 percent of likely voters (as of this 2012 poll).

Nearly 90 percent of voters think that candidates who prioritize national parks are seen as caring about the environment, protecting our heritage for the future, patriotic, and a good steward of our nation’s resources. And as the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, a majority of likely voters (77 percent) say it is important for the next president to ensure that parks are fully restored and ready to serve and be relevant to future generations in their second century.
The economic impact of national parks was felt as recently as last fall, when the Republican House shut them down. The communities around the parks lost $414 million in just 16 days. Every dollar invested in a national park, the National Park Service has found, comes back to the community 10-fold. A study released earlier this month by the NPS found that visits to parks in 2012 generated  $14.7 billion in spending in “gateway” communities, those within 60 miles of a park. All that money spent by park visitors supported 243,000 jobs and contributed $26.8 billion to the national economy.

Once again, the Republican House wasted time on a bill that is diametrically opposed to the will of the public. Once again, they wasted time on a bill that will not even get a hearing in the Senate. And once again they proved that they really do hate America.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 01:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges and Daily Kos.

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