Utah members of Congress and Gov. Gary Herbert joined President Donald Trump Wednesday at the Interior Department. They flanked the president -- and beamed -- as he signed an executive order to review two dozen national monuments, including two in Utah.
Trump administration officials used the ceremony to tout the Republican president’s accomplishments during his first 100 days in office.
“He's already signed 28 bills into law 30 executive orders,” said Vice President Mike Pence. “And today the president is delivering on yet another promise to the American people.”
Trump and Pence denounced monuments of the past two decades as egregious abuses of federal authority. They pledged to return power to state leaders and the people, and singled out Bears Ears.
“Tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land -- the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world,” said the president before signing the executive order.
The first 45 days of the review will focus on the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument – which Trump’s Democratic predecessor created four months ago. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah is also up for review.
White House officials say monument designations and environmental protections remain intact, but conservation advocates are suspicious.
“To mark his 100th day, President Trump is entering a legal, political and moral minefield,” said Christy Goldfuss, who represents a political action committee associated with the liberal Center for American Progress.
She and other environmental advocates have described the review as a first step in gutting the century-old law that allows presidents to create monuments.