Democrats Send Obama Firm Letter Over National Monuments In Washington State

By Tom Bacon

It's not surprising to hear Republican complaints about President Barack Obama, but it's a different matter when four Washington State Democrats pile on.

Both Washington senators - Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell - and a couple of Democratic House members  complained yesterday about their frustration with President Obama's "glacial pace at protecting public lands, even in places like the San Juans where local government leaders and businesses are on board."

Their letter referred to long-pending proposal to declare about 955 acres of land in the picturesque islands as a National Monument.  The lawmakers entreated the president to make the declaration before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leaves office in March. He's been a proponent of the San Juans National Monument plan, but has had no luck in goading the White House to act.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president may declare certain areas national monuments without the need for Congressional approval, but in recent years there's been heavy pushback from Republicans in Congress.  The four Washington State Democrats have also devised a legislative end-around in case they can't persuade the president to move. They have a bill to create a National Conservation Area on the land, but that bill has been bottled up in the House Natural Resources Committee. The group is chaired by another Washington lawmaker - Representative Doc Hastings, a Republican.
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