Boston - U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced today that he would recommend reducing the size of some national monuments.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, which protects a unique underwater landscape off the coast of Massachusetts, is one of the monuments that could be targeted for a reduction in size.
Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement:
"The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument protects a unique underwater landscape that provides important habitat for wildlife, including the endangered right whale. Rolling back these protections would put a critical piece of New England's natural heritage at risk.
Millions of Americans have enjoyed majestic vistas, camped under starlit skies, viewed abundant wildlife or just gone for a walk or a boat ride in our national monuments and parks. The unwise and unpopular choice to stop protecting these lands and waters will ravage pristine places, put wildlife in danger and jeopardize scientific and archeological history.”
The Antiquities Act allows presidents to set aside federally-owned lands and waters that have historic or scientific significance. From Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama, 16 American presidents, including Democrats and Republicans, have used the Antiquities Act to protect more than 150 special places as national monuments.
President Trump ordered Secretary Zinke in April to review 27 of these national treasures. Legal scholars agree that the president does not have authority under the Antiquities Act to significantly alter a national monument. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 affirmed that only Congress can modify national monuments.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument protects 4,913 square miles of marine ecosystems about 150 miles southwest of Cape Cod. The monument provides critical habitat for wildlife, from corals and sponges to sharks and whales. The monument was designated by President Barack Obama in September 2016 to protect this underwater landscape from fishing, drilling, and mining.
Read more about the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and other monuments at risk: www.standwithourlands.org.
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.