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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke


Secretary, U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Zinke:

We urge you to immediately cease any further work related to monument management plans for the
Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons Units of Grand Staircase-Escalante National
Monument and the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area released on August 17, 2018. We also request that
you delay any further work on plans for the Indian Creek and Shash Jáa Units of Bears Ears National
Monument, also released on August 17, 2018.

As you know, President Trump’s Proclamation 9681 which broke up Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-
Escalante National Monuments is currently under litigation. The courts have yet to issue a ruling on
whether the president’s actions were lawful. Many legal scholars agree that the president does not have
the authority to wipe out or shrink national monuments. Despite that, the Department of Interior
appears to be rushing through Environmental Impact Studies and Monument Management Plans
(MMPs) with minimal transparency and public input.

A growing body of evidence reveals the Interior Department’s Bears Ears management plan was unfairly
and improperly influenced by extraction and development interests. Despite your repeated denials, it is
clear that significant portions of the Bears Ears Monument – which was reduced by more than 1.1
million acres, or 85 percent – were carved out for oil and gas and uranium mining interests. Similarly,
access to coal reserves in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was apparently the key reason
for cutting the size of that 1.9 million-acre monument in half.

This administration’s review process of both these national monuments was flawed and dictated by
improper political considerations. From the beginning, the administration has improperly prioritized
mineral extraction and development within both these monuments over the protection of all other
precious resources. Most of the deliberations took place behind closed doors. The Interior Department
not only ignored the pleas of five Native American tribal nations, but also proposals from some local
public officials and local business owners, and millions of citizens who urged the administration to leave
the monuments intact.

The Department's stubborn refusal to delay the Resource Management Plan (RMP) process until a
judicial ruling is part and parcel of the unstated goal of satisfying the demands of extraction and
development interests. The process that resulted in the adoption of the original and current RMP
(2000) was a three-year collaborative effort involving stakeholders from across the political spectrum.
The RMP produced by the effort has strong support both in the gateway communities and in the land
management agencies. Instead of adopting a similar process for the creation of a new RMP, the DOI has
adopted an expedited planning approach, one which limits public involvement while granting maximum
influence behind closed doors to industry representatives.

It should be noted that the previous Administration’s process for creating the Bears Ears management
plan involved 15 public meetings in seven states. They made it a point to work collaboratively with the
Utah congressional delegation for months prior to creating Bears Ears. The previous administration’s
monument plan would have opened the possibility of exchanging more than a hundred-thousand acres
of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands for more lucrative federal lands outside the monument
boundaries.

As Utah representatives, we are proud of our state’s lands and of our heritage. The entirety of Bears
Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments deserve protection. Aside from the minerals
below the ground, these monuments preserve the stunning geology and numerous objects of historic
and of scientific interest. These monuments sustain and celebrate lands that are culturally important to
Native American tribes and they provide opportunities for grazing and world class outdoor recreation
alike.

We request that you immediately stop any development or implementation plans for these two
National Monuments until the courts have reached a resolution.

Sincerely,

Representative Patrice Arent Representative Joel Briscoe


House Democratic Whip
Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck Representative Sue Duckworth

Representative Lynn Hemingway Representative Sandra Hollins


House Democratic Caucus Manager

Representative Brian King Representative Karen Kwan


House Democratic Leader

Representative Carol Spackman Moss Representative Marie Poulson

Representative Angela Romero Representative Elizabeth Weight


House Democratic Assistant Whip

Representative Mark Wheatley