Northeast Canyons and Seamounts (Massachusetts)
Not all the monuments under threat are ones that you can hike on. Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the first national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, established in 2016, and covering nearly 5,000 square miles. "Due to the area’s biological diversity and relatively pristine condition, Senator Richard Blumenthal and the entire Connecticut delegation asked President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate these areas as a marine national monument," says Kelly. "The monument designation was supported by hundreds of thousands of people, as well as local businesses, organizations, and elected officials."
According to Kelly, the area is only about 1.5 percent of the U.S. territory along the East Coast and is some of the least fished in the region, and commercial lobstermen and crab fishermen who have traditionally operated in this area have been given an unprecedented seven-year grace period to continue their current operations while working out contingency plans for when their activities will be prohibited beginning in late 2023.
"There is pending litigation from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a Koch-funded legal group most infamous for defending tobacco companies, to challenge the monument designation," Kelly says. "The Trump Administration may be interested in rescinding the monument status to appease commercial interests."
"Our lawsuit is intended to rein in abuse of the Antiquities Act and underscore that it is not a blank check allowing presidents to do whatever they want," says PLF attorney Jonathan Wood. "The creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a clear example of a president exceeding his authority, and we are suing to make sure this edict is struck down and the rule of law prevails."
Now that a review of national monuments is underway, they might just get their way.