Udall seeks assurance from Interior on monuments

Chaco Culture National Historical Park/Wikipedia

By Scott Turner | Albuquerque Journal

While members of the New Mexico congressional delegation and environmental advocacy groups were pleased with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s commitment to hold off oil and gas leasing within a 10-mile buffer zone of Chaco Culture National Historical Park for a year, the state’s senior senator would like some assurances that national monuments would be protected as well.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall questioned the secretary about the Trump administration’s plans for national monuments – including Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico – during a congressional hearing a few weeks ago. In 2017, the administration had announced plans to shrink the monuments.

 “Yes, or no, Mr. Secretary, has the department taken any actions to date, or does the department have any plans to take future actions, including making additional recommendations to the White House for presidential action, that implement changes to the eight other monuments called for by (former) Secretary (Ryan) Zinke’s review?” Udall asked at the hearing.

Bernhardt replied, “I think the answer is no,” and that he will “not take any action on any monuments,” unless directed by the president.

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