Executive Orders Wrong for America and SC

16 May Executive Orders Wrong for America and SC

As Published in The State Newspaper

Executive Orders Wrong for America. Wrong for SC

Two of the President’s executive orders come close to the hearts of South Carolinians.

The first is to encourage seismic testing and drilling off our pristine coast. As every coastal Mayor has said, this makes no sense: we don’t have a place to locate the on-shore infrastructure; it puts billions of dollars tourism at risk; jobs gained would not replace those lost; and studies have shown there is little likelihood of oil.

The second order seeks to undo the Antiquities Act of 1906, a legacy of the great conservationist Theodore Roosevelt that gives the President the authority to establish a national monument.

While providing education and recreation, parks and monuments preserve and interpret the American story. There are two paths to creating them. The first is through legislation that can be difficult because efforts often become Christmas trees where Members of Congress say “you get one so I should get one”. Some legislative initiatives are also blocked because they represent a story that some do not want told.

The alternative is the Antiquities Act that allows a President to establish a national monument where protection of an area is both urgent and important but Congress will not act. Some believe this is overstepping boundaries.

The President said the “The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice.” What he does not recognize is that under the Act the government is not taking property. It is already federal property owned by all Americans. In other cases, people are donating it to the government so that it can be shared and protected for the public good.

National monuments and parks are not just “niceties.” They protect open space for recreation for all Americans; they preserve important chapters of the story of our great country and they contribute more than most would think to our national economy.

The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation and related tourism generated $887 Billion in consumer spending last year and sustained 7.6 million jobs. Thanks in large part to American’s love of national parks and monuments; we have a growing industry that is sustainable—if only we protect it.

Our national parks and monuments enrich the quality of life for our citizens like our special coast; they preserve our heritage and culture; and they bring many people to visit our states and create jobs.