Rep. Denny Rehberg said he introduced the Montana Land Sovereignty Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, requiring congressional approval before the White House or the Department of Interior (DOI) can designate new national monuments or “wild lands” in Montana.
“The open-season on Montana’s land is over,” Rehberg, R-Montana, said in a news release. “This is about standing against the insufferable arrogance of Washington, D.C., that assumes an unelected bureaucrat can make better decisions from behind a desk than the folks who live and work the land in Montana. It’s time to reassert the authority of the people of Montana to manage our lands.”
Last year, an incomplete version of a memo drafted within the DOI revealed plans to declare millions of acres in Montana as national monuments.
He said the legislation was based on what he heard from residents at 75 listening sessions statewide.
The use of the Antiquities Act to circumvent congressional and public input is not unprecedented, Rehberg said. President Clinton used his authority granted under the Antiquities Act to create the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, despite outright opposition from Montanans.
Then, late last year, the DOI issued Secretarial Order 3310, which allows the federal government to create a new “Wild Lands” classification for public lands, once again circumventing congressional authority and public input.
This sets the stage for more public land to be managed as de facto wilderness, stifling job creation by severely limiting agriculture, hunting and recreational uses, along with potential energy and mineral development, Rehberg said.