On Thursday night (February 9, 2017) Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R) was met with chants of “Do Your Job!” at a town hall meeting in his home district which includes Salt Lake City. Footage of the town hall made national news and even the local evening news here in Portland, Oregon. Although Chaffetz represents a district that is overwhelmingly Republican there seems to be a growing sense among his constituents that he is not doing the people’s business in Washington, DC as the chairman of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
I speak for myself when I say I am heartened to see Democrats, Republicans, and people who don’t identify with either party stand up against an elected official who is failing to represent his people. If people in a district that is 70% Republican can stand up to a a Republican behaving poorly then we should all take notice and give thanks that Americans have not abandoned their core values. Jason Chaffetz — you can be replaced. Replaced with a Republican, Independent, or Democrat who represents the people of Utah and their values….
Which leads me to an issue that is playing out in Utah and that goes right to the heart of our values: Bears Ears National Monument. Here’s the story:
Today I reached out to a couple of Utah Indivisible Groups to thank them for their work and asked if they had any pictures they were willing to share of the town hall meeting. I heard back from Salt Lake Indivisible and they were kind enough to share some photos from the town hall with Chaffetz which you can view below.
In a couple of the photos I noticed banners that mentioned saving “Bears Ears.” I hadn’t heard of Bears Ears so I asked the Utah Indivisible folks about it and soon learned that Bears Ears is a recently designated National Monument and it has been saved — for the time being.
The backstory is complicated. It revolves around a decade of work on the parts of 5 Tribes to protect Bears Ears from those who would devour it for its resources. On December 28, 2016 Barack Obama declared it a national monument leaving 1.35 million acres full of culturally significant sites for Native tribes protected from development.
Chaffetz and Utah Senator Mike Lee (R) have vowed to reclaim the land for mineral development arguing Obama overreached his presidential authority with his declaration. This is categorically untrue. The president does, IN FACT, have the authority to create national monuments (Antiquities Act of 1906).
So what now?
Do we respect the 5 Tribes and president Obama’s proclamation?
Do we allow Congressmen, backed by special interest developers, to overturn presidential powers?
Do we choose potash and uranium deposits over the heritage lands of the native tribes?
These decisions aren’t for us to make. The native tribes have been making their arguments for conservation for almost a decade. The Navajo Nation council, in a unanimous vote, supported this move and President Obama put pen to paper.
These lands belong to their stewards and they have been declared preserved. If we are to have any values as Americans it is that our word means something. Please be mindful when you hear updates on Bears Ears. Please call and write Senator Lee and Congressman Chaffetz.
In recent days the people of Utah have taken steps to defend us against a government official who is not protecting the rights of his people. Now we must act to protect not just the land at Bears Ears but the written proclamation that our government made to the 5 Tribes when President Obama legally made Bears Ears a national monument.
What remains for us to do is to defend the work of the 5 Tribes and the decision made by President Barack Obama. There’s no point in contacting Senator Lee and Congressman Chaffetz as they are committed to development of the land.
Please visit the Bears Ears website to view the amazing land and the work of the 5 Tribes to preserve its beauty.
Bears Ears talking points provided by Steve Trimble
The button below connects to the Depart of of the Interior website contact form where you can make your opinions known!
Secretary of the Interior-designate Ryan Zinke
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Phone: (202) 208-3100
Chaffetz town hall