WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of the Interior announced late Thursday night restored and expanded protections for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. The Trump administration had slashed the size of Bears Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly half. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, released the following statement in response:
“The Biden administration’s restoration of these extraordinary public lands is a welcome change from Trump-era policies that put CEOs and climate denialists ahead of the public interest. After four long years of the Trump administration’s rollback of protections on America’s most sacred public lands, working with oil and mining industry executives to open up these important places for exploitation, accelerating the climate crisis, and hastening the loss of nature and biodiversity, renewed protections for these national monuments is hopeful news.
“This news, which has been praised by tribes, highlights the Biden administration’s commitment to respect tribal sovereignty and Indigenous culture. Americans have learned all too well over the past years that the oil and gas industry has far too much influence in Washington, with the direct result that the federal government has elevated the narrow interests of Big Oil even over the imperative of protecting our nation’s shared historic, cultural, and natural legacy, as well as protecting humanity from the existential threat of catastrophic climate change.”