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11 AGs Join Fight to Prevent Trump Administration’s Unlawful Plan to Strip Protections from National Monuments

The Trump administration’s decision to strip national monuments of critical protections goes against more than 110 years of legal precedent.

November 20, 2018
Contact: Christopher.Gray@nyu.edu
(929) 333-6213

Washington, D.C.— A coalition of 11 state attorneys general led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson submitted an amicus brief yesterday requesting the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that President Trump’s proclamation weakening protections for national monuments is an unlawful violation of the American Antiquities Act of 1906, one of the nation’s oldest and most important conservation laws.

The state attorneys general’s amicus brief supports the Native American tribes and environmental organizations that filed suit against the Trump administration’s claim that it has the authority to unilaterally excise large portions of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments and invite mining, oil and gas extraction and other commercial development on lands that are duly protected under the Antiquities Act. The state attorneys general also support entry of a declaratory judgment that stops the Administration from following the open-ended review process laid out in Executive Order 13792 and undoing additional monument protections across the entire country.

“President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally revoke national monuments,” AG Ferguson said. “My office is committed to defending these national treasures in Washington state and throughout the country.”

In their brief, the state attorneys general point out that the Antiquities Act includes no language authorizing subsequent presidents to revoke duly-made National Monument designations. Only Congress has the authority to revoke such designations, and no previous president has ever attempted to do so.

“In his radical attempt to remove large portions of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments from protection under the Antiquities Act, President Trump is attempting to usurp a power that only Congress can exercise,” said David J. Hayes, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “State attorneys general are standing up for the rule of law in an attempt to preserve some of our greatest national wonders for future generations.”

In addition to Washington, attorneys general of California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts joined the multi-state coalition in submitting the brief.


The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to working with state attorneys general to protect and advance clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.