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house Bill H.R. 1459

Making It More Difficult for Presidents to Designate National Monuments

Argument in favor

Limits executive power, though the standing 1906 Antiquities Act has been used by fifteen presidents from both political parties, and furthermore represents a genuine balance of power between Congress and a president, as Congress retains all powers over a piece of presidentially-nominated land.

Argument opposed

Creates unneeded and expensive regulatory hurdles for creation of new monuments and alters a 1906 bill that needs no changes. Further, the bill’s ability to make a monument less than 5,000 acres not a monument after three years destabilizes protection for myriad monuments, including the Little Bighorn Battlefield, George Washington Carver’s house, and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed March 26th, 2014
    Roll Call Vote 222 Yea / 201 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedApril 10th, 2013

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What is House Bill H.R. 1459?

Would amend the process of designating new national monuments. The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to declare landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are on federal land to be national monuments. H.R. 1459 would require an environmental review of any potential monuments that are greater than 5,000 acres. The designation of a national monument would expire after three years for any monument less than 5,000 acres unless the monument was designated by a change in the law. Under the bill, every designation would be followed by a feasibility study of the costs of managing the monument. The legislation also would limit the number of designations the President could make to one per state during a four-year term.


If enacted, the bill would affect an awful lot of acres in an awful lot of places, including the Grand Canyon, the Colorado National Monument, and Mt. Saint Helens.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1459

$2.00 Million
Based on information provided by the National Park Service, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1459 would cost about $2 million over the 2014-2018 period. Over the past 10 years, 16 national monuments have been established. CBO estimates that the additional studies required under the legislation would increase the cost of designating a new monument by about $300,000. Enacting H.R. 1459 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

More Information

Of Note:

-The United States has 108 protected areas designated as national monuments. 

-Until the passage of a March 2014 bill to protect wilderness lands in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore , Congress had not protected a single new acre of public lands since 2009, the longest such drought since World War II. 

-Congress forced a 16-day government shutdown last fall that cost national parks and local communities 8 million lost visitors and $414 million in lost visitor spending. 


Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act

Official Title

To ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 applies to the declaration of national monuments, and for other purposes.