Why Are Paleontologists Suing the Trump Administration?

POLITICS

President Donald Trump sharply reduced the size of two national monuments by about two million acres, the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is one of the groups suing the government over the decision. (Science)

Why is the Trump administration rethinking the scope of national monuments? Use our study guide to find out.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit, including a link to today’s MapMaker Interactive map.

The Trump administration lifted strict protections from about 85% of the 61,000-hectare Bears Ears National Monument.
Illustration by P. David Polly, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. CC-BY-SA-4.0

 

The administration cut in half the 760,000-hectare Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument.
Illustration by P. David Polly, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. CC-BY-SA-4.0

 

Discussion Ideas

What other monuments are being reviewed? Use today’s MapMaker Interactive map to identify the monuments that have been cut, and those under review.

 

  • Who is suing the federal government to challenge cuts to the monuments?
    • Native Americans. Representatives from the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, the Navajo Nation and the Ute Indian tribes accused Trump of exceeding “the limited authority delegated to his office.”
    • conservationists. Organizations including the Wilderness Society, National Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Grand Canyon Trust, and the Great Old Broads for Wilderness have filed a lawsuit to force the release of Freedom of Information Act requests for information about proposed cuts to national monuments.
    • scientists. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) is suing to block the cuts. In addition, more than 100 scholars signed a letter arguing that only Congress can shrink a monument.

 

  • What legal argument unites the concerns of all these groups legally opposing the cuts?
    • The groups all say the executive branch does not have the legal authority to reduce the size of an existing monument.

 

 

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

Science: Q&A: Why fossil scientists are suing Trump over monuments downsizing

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: Why SVP Is Suing Over Monument Reductions

New York Times: Trump Slashes Size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Monuments

CNN: Native American tribes, conservation groups sue Trump over monument changes

Nat Geo: What You Need to Know About the National Monument ‘Rethink’

Nat Geo: What Monuments Have Shrunk?

 

One response to “Why Are Paleontologists Suing the Trump Administration?

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Reads: Communicating about Science | Brain Popcorn·

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