No Reason to Eliminate Protections for National Monuments

Trump administration's monument "review" deliberately ignored science to prioritize extraction

Octopus in the Canyons and Seamounts

The monument is an important area for marine wildlife, from octopi deep underwater to puffins at the surface. Documents from the Department of the Interior revealed claims that the monument was detrimental to commercial fishing are unfounded. Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

For almost as long as he has been in office, President Trump has led an attack on our public lands and waters, trying to reverse protections for our most special places. But the truth is out: New documents show that Trump administration officials agree that the case for rolling back protections for our national monuments – including the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument – is absolutely baseless.

The protections for the Atlantic’s only marine monument must stay intact.

Documents Prove Monument “Review” was Skewed from the Start

Last week, the Department of the Interior accidentally released thousands of documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. The documents prove that the Trump administration’s national monument “review” was a predetermined exercise from the very beginning. The review was designed to prioritize drilling, mining, and other extractive uses of protected public lands and waters. The documents reveal that when deciding recommendations to eliminate protection for national monuments, Interior Secretary Zinke ignored science and public opinion – and his own staff – who all said there is no case for rolling back protections.

Regarding the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, the documents reveal Interior official Randy Bowman, who led the monument review process, specifically removed mentions of impacts to fishermen because “they were so minor in the context of the overall New England fishing industry as to undercut the case for making changes.”

Yet despite the lack of evidence that fishing industries are harmed by the monument, Zinke still recommended allowing commercial fishing in the Canyons and Seamounts. It’s clear now more than ever that this administration favors extraction over conservation and will do anything to get its way – even omit the truth.

Monument Status for the Canyons and Seamounts Must Continue

It’s critical that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts – three canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and four extinct underwater volcanoes – remain fully protected as a marine national monument. The monument is an important area for marine wildlife, from endangered whales and puffins at the surface, to fragile, slow-growing corals deep in the canyons and on the seamounts.

Rolling back protections or shrinking the size of our monuments is sacrificing some of New England’s most special and vulnerable ocean and lands and would put our natural, cultural, and scientific resources at risk. It is the administration’s obligation to support the protection and conservation of our public lands and waters.

President Trump must listen to the words of his own staff, the hundreds of thousands of comments filed in support of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, and the scientific analyses detailing the significant ecological value and scientific interest of the monument. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts should remain as it is: protected for generations to come.

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