[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced an amendment to the Great American Outdoors Act that would prohibit the use of funds to implement the President’s proclamation eliminating protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. On June 5, 2020, President Donald Trump announced that he would open the region’s only marine national monument to commercial fishing.
The Blumenthal measure states in part:
“the President does not have the legal authority under the Constitution of the United States or any Federal law to eliminate the protections necessary for the ‘‘proper care and management’’ of the ‘‘objects of scientific and historic interest’’ at a national monument, as required under chapter 3203 of 6 title 54, United States Code; only Congress may make a significant change in the protection of a national monument; in attempting to roll back the protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument under Presidential Proclamation 9496, as issued on September 15, 2016 (54 13 U.S.C. 320301 note), the action of the President on 14 June 5, 2020, was unlawful…”
After the President announced the planned rollback of protections, Blumenthal released the following statement:
“The President’s rollback of protections for New England’s only national marine monument on World Environment Day is a brazen, intentional slap in the face of all Americans. Instead of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic or the calls for racial justice, President Trump has taken yet another abhorrent axe to environmental protections. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a spectacular underwater seascape that is both precious and priceless. Preserving its rich biodiversity and pristine marine ecosystem is simply the right thing to do. I will continue to fight for the protection of this aquatic treasure to ensure that exquisite parts of our planet are protected for our children and grandchildren.”
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument was created in 2016 under the Obama administration and covers nearly 5,000 square miles of water and submerged lands. Blumenthal has long been a leading voice in advocating for the designation of this first-ever Atlantic marine national monument. Prior to the monument’s designation, Blumenthal led the Connecticut Congressional Delegation in urging President Barack Obama to use his authority to preserve and protect this environmental treasure. The delegation’s letter can be found here. In 2017, Blumenthal wrote to the U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross opposing any rollback of protections to the country’s national monuments, specifically the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. That letter can be found here.