The platform to be voted on at the Republican party’s national convention next week in Cleveland includes limits to presidential authority to designate national monuments thanks, in part, to the work of a Maine lawmaker, officials said Wednesday.
The National Platform Committee adopted a motion from Maine state Rep. Stacey Guerin, R-Glenburn, on Monday that would require states, as well as Congress, to approve presidential executive orders creating monuments, she said.
“The committee was addressing the federal land grab of national monuments because it is a national issue. It happens in other states,” Guerin, a convention delegate, said late Tuesday.
President Barack Obama is said to be considering issuing an executive order attaching monument status to about 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park. The monument proposal comes from the family of Burt’s Bees entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby. She has sought a national park there since at least 2011.
“So many acres have been consumed by the federal government in this way [by executive orders]. It is really not fair to the states,” Maryland delegate Ben Marchi, who supported Guerin’s motion, said Wednesday.
Even if adopted as expected, the platform item is largely symbolic, as Congress would need to repeal or amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make the change binding. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, submitted a two-page bill in November that would require approval from host governors and state legislatures for executive orders creating monuments in their states.
An email sent to a spokeswoman for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump asking for his position on the issue was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Obama has created 22 national monuments and enlarged two more, a presidential record, according to the National Park Service. He has set aside more than 265 million acres, including some waterways. Conservatives see the designations as examples of federal overreach because they occur unilaterally and often against the wishes of states, Guerin said.
The draft of the GOP’s platform will be voted on by delegates on Monday.
The platform designation would follow Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s signing of a bill in April aimed at blocking Obama’s executive authority. The bill was seen as a symbolic gesture, given legal opinions that it would probably not pass a constitutional review.
Lobbyists for the Quimby family have been pushing the White House for an executive order since April 2015. The monument effort is an offshoot of a national park campaign that faced nearly unanimous opposition from local and state governments.
Conservation and business groups see the park as a massive economic development opportunity for the Katahdin region, and support the monument. The park idea, they have said, has drawn significant support in statewide and regional polls.
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, have said they have “serious reservations” about the monument idea. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, opposes it, while U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, supports it.
National Park Service officials have said that the difference between a park and monument is largely bureaucratic, except that monuments aren’t as well advertised internationally as parks.
The park service has 16 designations for its holdings, including national historic sites, national preserves and national memorials.