California Says Trump Can’t Legally Touch Its National Monuments

The Golden State's attorney general is mad as hell and he just isn't going to take it anymore.

Wildflowers cover the hills in Carrizo Plain National Monument near Taft, California. — AFP/Getty Images
Jun 09, 2017 at 2:57 PM ET

Despite President Donald Trump’s executive order calling for a full review of all national monuments created since 1996, California is arguing that his administration doesn’t have the right to target six tributes in the Golden State.

In an 11-page letter sent to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argued that while presidents have the power to create monuments, it does not give Trump, or any other commander in chief, the authority to eliminate or shrink them.

“I am determined to take any and all action necessary to protect the American heritage we respect and cherish in our monument lands,” Becerra wrote on Medium on Thursday. “Because right now, six of California’s national monuments could be on the chopping block.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that all six of the California monuments that are expected to face review under the executive order were given their designation by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The monuments were also almost universally supported throughout the state.

In April, Trump’s executive order called on Zinke to review 27 national monuments designated in the last 21 years that are either larger than 100,000 acres or had expanded “without adequate public outreach.”

The president’s order seemingly goes against the Antiquities Act, which was passed under former President Theodore Roosevelt with the aim of protecting federal lands that are of natural, cultural, or historical interest.

Becerra added that he hopes California won’t be the only state to step up to the Trump administration’s executive order on national monuments.

“I expect that I will be joined by many of this country’s state attorneys general in using all of the legal tools at our disposal to ensure that the rule of the law is followed,” Becerra wrote in the letter to Zinke.