Presidents Abuse the Antiquities Act: New at Reason

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order requiring a review of the much-abused Antiquities Act. And for good reason. The past two presidents have run wild with the law, Jonathan Wood, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, writes.

The federal government spends millions every year to support recreation on federal lands, without earning much revenue in return. The government doesn't charge backpackers, campers, and hikers the cost of setting aside the lands they use or the cost of maintaining them. Consequently, according to a PERC study, the government returns less than thirty cents for every dollar it spends subsidizing regulation. And it has a $19 billion backlog for deferred maintenance.

The original intent of the Antiquities Act was to protect antiquities and historic structures. Today, the Antiquities Act is primarily a means for presidents to unilaterally to lock up huge areas, securing their legacies with special interests like environmental groups and the outdoor companies like Patagonia.

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