Did The President Steal Your Land?

Did The President Steal Your Land?

Opinion free facts on the President's recent amendments to the Bears Ears and Escalante Proclamations.

As I am sure you have already heard, President Trump recently announced that he would be decreasing the size of the national monuments, Bears Ears and Escalante. The most immediate and publicized response to this came from the company, Patagonia. Last Tuesday, they replaced their homepage with the following message:

This was the first I saw of the President's decision on the two monuments. Being a person who likes to know as much as possible before jumping on any bandwagons, I decided to do some research.

Low and behold I could find almost no actual facts on the issue. Every result from my Google searches were filled with opinions on the issue, but no actual data. I even caught a segment on NPR about the issue and was shocked that by the end of it I still had no idea which, if any, laws were being broken and what was actually being taken away. I read piece after piece of news media on the subject and once again found only "How dare Trump do this!" and "How dare anyone question the President's decision!" Both of which told me absolutely nothing.

So, I am going to present to you the quick facts of this issue in a non-partisan manor so that we may all have the actual data involved without having to go to 18+ different sites like I did. From there, you are welcome to draw your own opinions.

Fact: Bears Ears was designated as a national monument in December of 2016 by President Barack Obama, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Both of these monuments are located in Utah.

Fact: The Antiquities Act of 1906 (also known as section 320301 of title 54 in the U.S. code) states that the President may name/declare by public proclamation national monuments, section B of this act also states that the parcels of land shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

There is also a C and D of this act that you can view using this link, however it is section A and B that are of primary concern to this issue.

Fact: Through President Trump's latest amendment to the size of the two land marks, Bears Ears will be reduced from 1.35 million acres to 201,876 acres and Escalante will be reduced from 1.9 million acres to 1,003,863 acres.

Fact: President Trump's amendment to the each of the original Proclamations proclaims the amendment has been made due to the fact that the President has decided that the originally set boundaries were not the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected. In each proclamation the President states which objects he claims are either not historically relevant enough to be considered a national monument, or are protected under other laws and have therefore been deemed by the President unnecessary to be included in the National Monument.

You can read both of these Proclamations, which are surprisingly readable and short for government documents, using the following links:

Bears Ears Proclamation Escalante Proclamation

Fact: Five major lawsuits are currently being filed against the President in response to these Proclamations. The arguments against the proclamations are as follows:

In response to the Bears Ears Proclamation:

1. Hopi Tribe et al v. Trump et al: Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president does not have the legal authority to revoke or modify a monument — only to designate one. Additionally, the tribes say the 1.35 million acres set aside by President Barack Obama holds spiritual significance and contains cultural artifacts that deserve protection at the threat of looting, grave-robbing, vandalism and development.

2. Utah Dine Bikeyah et al v. Trump et al: Reducing the 1.35 million-acre monument would threaten hundreds of historical rock art panels, artifacts, pueblos and kivas. For its part, Patagonia insists the cuts would hurt the company financially by taking away recreation areas that provide “some of the best rock climbing in North America” used by its customers. Development in the area, adds Friends of Cedar Mesa, would mean “direct and immediate harm” to the paleontological hot spots within the monument’s boundaries, and oil and gas drilling would “result in the destruction and degradation” of the ecosystem.

3. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. et al v. Donald J. Trump et al: Trimming the monument would threaten “irreplaceable” archaeological artifacts and damage paleontology sites.

In response to the Escalante Proclamation:

4. The Wilderness Society et al v. Donald J. Trump et al: The lawsuit alleges Trump is stripping protection for land that would leave “remarkable fossil, cultural, scenic and geological treasures exposed to immediate and ongoing harm.” That includes the Kaiparowits Plateau, which holds abundant coal deposits and is a paleontological treasure trove

5. Grand Staircase Escalante Partners et al v. Trump et al: Removing protection from nearly 900,000 acres in the monument would threaten “sensitive resources located there,” including plant and bee species, archaeological artifacts and geological formations. The president’s actions were illegal.

For more details on each of these lawsuits, visit 5 Lawsuits Against President Trump's Proclamations

Fact: President Trump's size reduction of the two national monuments is the largest elimination of protected land in American History.

Fact: A President has never reduced or amended the size of a National Monument, as the Antiquity Act of 1906 allows for Presidents to create a National Monument, but does not state that they are allowed to modify or remove a National Monument after it has been instated. (This interpretation of the law will obviously be up for debate in the upcoming court cases.)

There you have it, the hard facts of the "Did the President Steal Your Land?" debate. I hope this was helpful and will lead to a knowledgable debate as to whether these Proclamations were good/bad, legal/illegal.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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Starbucks Corrects Its Wrongs In Light Of Recent Racial Bias Issue

All stores in the U.S. will be closed on May 29th to perform racial bias training.

Recently, a video of two African-American men being arrested in their local Starbucks for simply standing and waiting for their friends in the lobby/seating area surfaced on the internet. Since this situation was brought to light, there has been an uproar of public outrage focused on the blatant racial bias these men were faced with. Even Starbucks itself had something to say about it.

For many African-American citizens, this situation is all too common. Being racially profiled is not a thing of the past and more than just these two men have experienced it. The ACLU writes about the experiences of citizens being racially profiled, stating,

"We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to."

In light of the recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, many fans expressed outrage in the comments section of this post, but Starbucks responded to almost every viral, angry comment:

However, in the midst all of the outraged comments were fans who appreciated the message that Starbucks was trying to send:

Despite the mixed reviews on Starbucks' course of action, the company is standing strong in their choice to address the issue and correct it.

People come to Starbucks stores to drink coffee, hang out, talk with their friends, and have a good time. It is absurd that these two men were escorted out and arrested for doing just that. I, personally, have done that same thing and have never once been asked to leave.

As a country, we need to think about the way we treat people of color and other minorities. It is a shame that this kind of public outcry had to happen to bring racial profiling to our attention. People are treated unfairly for no reason other than the color of their skin every day.

Way to go, Starbucks.

Thank you for recognizing that this was not an isolated incident and that racial profiling happens all the time. Thank you for taking the time to publicly announce that you are willing to go through the proper training with your employees to ensure that it doesn't happen ever again. But most of all, thank you for making a statement to the rest of the nation and the world about what kind of company you are, what kind of people you represent, and that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Why Earth Day Is Underrated, And What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” –The Lorax

April 22 may be just another day to most, but with climate change on the rise and wildlife becoming extinct, it’s more important now than ever to recognize Earth Day and understand what it entails. Our society as a whole cannot let this day pass with nothing done. It has to serve as a reminder of the action that must be taken.

Late January of 1969 would come to be a turning point for our nation. At the time, the worst oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, California. Founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson was horrified, yet inspired. Soon after, he announced his idea to teach the nation about the environment and built a staff to promote events across the country.

Earth Day brought thousands of colleges and universities together to fight for the cause. It became a sense of unity for everyone. No matter who you were, what race you were, where you came from, Earth Day was able to empower these people and help them realize they all wanted the same thing for the home we share. This kind of behavior is exactly what we need today, and should enable us to see that we’re all on the same side.

By the time 1990 came, Earth Day became a global event. 200 million people were involved to fight for environmental issues.

Today, Earth Day and the environment face many challenges. With those who deny climate change, deforestation, oil lobbyists, fracking, dying animal life, politicians dividing our nation on these issues, and much more, Earth Day astoundingly continues to prevail through the obstacles. With over 190 counties participating in the event each year, and more than 1 billion people, it’s never too late to do your part and contribute to the day.

Here are some basic things that anyone can do to make a change. Every day counts, and anything you do matters.

1. Join a local outdoors cleanup

Rivers, forests, beaches, whatever is near you. Help clean up litter and debris.

2. Carpool

This is probably the simplest thing you and your friends or family can do. If you’re going to the same place, drive together. For every mile you don’t drive- you’re reducing your carbon footprint by 1 pound.

3. Bring reusable bags when you shop

They’re cheap, cute, and save an abundance on plastic.

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Save on wasting plastic bottles every day.

5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products

Typical cleaning products are high in chemicals and toxicity.

6. Always recycle!

Paper, plastic, cans, anything you can. Every individual thing recycled makes a difference.

7. Use LED lightbulbs

This can reduce your footprint 450 pounds per year.

8. Volunteer at local environmental groups

See if your school has an environmental club, or anything local in your town. See how many people you can get to do it with you and make a day out of it.

9. Donate your clothes and check out thrift stores

Instead of throwing them out, give them to somewhere they will be of use. Also, thrift shopping is inexpensive and you can find some really unexpectedly great items!

10. Don’t wait until Earth Day to do all of these things

Keep up the green behavior year-round.

Do your part, and do what you can today.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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