Comment to the Dept. of the Interior

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From: Rev. Mitch Hescox

On behalf of my organization, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), I write to provide our comment on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s review of National Monuments to fulfill Executive Order 13792 of April 26, 2017.

To begin, it is important to remember to whom all things belong. As the Bible reminds us:

“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all”; and “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him”; and “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof.” (Psalms 104:24, 95:4 and 24:1).

As citizens of this great nation all of us are called to be good stewards of the bounty upon which all life depends, to protect and defend the beauty and purity of the land and water, to have clean skies and fresh air for our children to enjoy.

Our public lands are essential to our quality of life. They make available to everyone what belongs to God. They reflect our highest ideals as a nation: that everyone is welcome because all individuals are created equal, endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To step into a National Monument or National Park and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation is to experience freedom and the richness of life as persons made in the image of God.

In releasing his Executive Order, President Trump stated that “we are putting the states back in charge.” Secretary Zinke added that a key goal is to “give states and local communities a meaningful voice in the process.”

But federal lands, including those designated as National Monuments, are for all the people. The views of all citizens should be respected equally; no one’s voice should be privileged above the rest of us, given that our Declaration of Independence declares that we are all created equal. All of us should have a meaningful voice in the process. As such, we are grateful for this opportunity to provide our comment.

As stewards of these national treasures all citizens and government officials must be ever vigilant against attempts to sell them, transfer them, or weaken their protections.

Last year over 200,000 pro-life Christians called on our elected officials “to protect our parks and federal lands, add new ones, and ensure funding so that every American can enjoy the beauty of God's creation.” Respect for past National Monument designations is essential for achieving these goals.

In the press conference previewing the President’s Executive Order, Secretary Zinke made it clear that some lands have gotten too much protection: “we’ve drifted too far away from multiple use into single use.” Multiple use would include grazing and oil and gas development.

But the whole point of designating federal land as a National Monument is to protect it from such other uses.

Therefore, we oppose any attempts to rescind or reduce past Monument designations.

Thank you for considering our comments and for all you are doing to defend God’s creation.

 

 

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