Commentary: Business leaders from across New Mexico are applauding Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) today for introducing the America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspires, and the Together Improve the Economies of States Act (ANTIQUITIES Act) of 2018 into the House of Representatives. This bill mirrors legislation introduced in January by Senator Tom Udall and co-sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich.
Congresswoman Grisham’s bill is a response to the aggressive removal this past January by President Trump of more than 2 million acres of public lands from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, despite strong opposition from Tribal entities, local governments, business leaders, sportsmen and women, veterans, conservationists, and others.
63 other members of Congress, including Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) joined Congresswoman Grisham as co-sponsors of her bill.
Under the existing Antiquities Act of 1906, Presidents are able to designate national monuments, a privilege that has been applied by numerous presidents, both Republican and Democrat, from Teddy Roosevelt to President Obama. The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018 legislatively recognizes the 51 national monuments established by presidents between 1996 and 2007, as well as reiterates the law that only Congress, and not the Executive branch, has the power to reduce or diminish national monument protections.
Of those 51 national monuments, three are in New Mexico: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rio Grande del Norte, and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. Furthermore, the ANTIQUITES Act of 2018 designates nearly 250,000 acres of land within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments as wilderness, the highest level of protection for public lands.
“Sixty-five percent of people who call New Mexico home take advantage of our outdoors, and we’ve long known that our unspoiled public lands are an intense economic driver, whether it’s tourism, attracting people to move to New Mexico, or growing our outdoor recreation economy. Representative Lujan Grisham’s bill reflects what New Mexicans, and the majority of Americans value,” said Alexandra Merlino, Executive Director of the Partnership for Responsible Business.
“This legislation already had the support of dozens of groups and millions of people, as evident from thepublic comments that were collected when President Trump tried to hijack our national monuments,” saidCorey Asbill, Chair of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and co-founder of Organ Mountain Solar & Electric. “The people of New Mexico spoke and Congresswoman Lujan Grisham heard us and acted accordingly. Hunters, hikers, and business owners across the state applaud this bill.”
“Our potential as a state is deeply tied to our public lands, especially from an economic development perspective,” said Robb Hirsh, Board Chair for the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce and and owner of WindForce, Inc., a New Mexico-based renewable energy development company. “At the end of the day, this support from Senators Udall and Heinrich, and now Representatives Lujan Grisham and Luján, is support for business and tourism, which goes hand-and-had with conserving our air, land, and water for future generations to enjoy.”
Both Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments in New Mexico experienced significant increases in visitation, by 45 and 150 percent respectively, since being designated in 2013 and 2014.
The Partnership for Responsible Business works to educate the public about local sustainable economies, to promote economic development through environmentally and socially responsible entrepreneurship, and to partner with allied organizations to advances socially responsible economic and community development policies and practices. To learn more, visit www.PRBnewmexico.org.