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Utah expected to sue over Biden's monument proclamations

Posted at 2:55 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-09 14:21:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's solicitor general said the state is likely to file a lawsuit challenging President Biden's executive orders restoring the original boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

"We think this is definitely an abuse of power of the Antiquities Act," Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak said in an interview with FOX 13.

READ: Biden restores Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments

The solicitor general, who brings litigation on behalf of the state, said she would review the president's proclamations and the Utah Attorney General's Office would then decide whether to file a lawsuit. But members of Utah's congressional delegation and state leadership have warned of a lawsuit over Bears Ears National Monument.

"Under the Antiquities Act, it has to be limited to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of these structures," Holyoak said. "Expansion to Obama boundaries where it’s basically the size of Delaware seems to be a gross abuse of that authority."

She said any lawsuit Utah brings could likely go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It would not be the first time Utah has sued. The state filed a lawsuit challenging President Clinton's designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996.

Utah lost that lawsuit.

"I’m not going to be surprised if they try again and I expect it’s going to meet the same result," said Stephen Bloch, the legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

SUWA was among a coalition of environmental and tribal groups who sued President Trump over his decision to shrink both monuments in 2017. Bloch said they would review and decide whether to continue their litigation.