The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Open season for fracking

Andrea Stachura
Antelope Staff

Trump has once again proven that he prioritizes big business over our environment. On Feb. 2 at 6 a.m., the Trump administration opened up land in Utah known as Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante for mining, drilling and energy corporations to start staking claim on the land for corporate financial gains.

These lands had formerly been set aside as a national monument for its preservation of Native American history.

This all started in December when Trump announced the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, setting a troubling precedent allowing fossil fuel and mining industries to exploit and pollute some of our nation’s greatest historical, geological and archaeological sites. Bears Ears was cut by 85 percent, while Grand Staircase-Escalante was cut to about half of its former size.

Bears Ears was declared a national monument by president Obama in 2016, using the Antiquities Act. This act grants presidents the authority to set aside landmarks and “other objects of historic or scientific interest.” This was done to protect thousands of sacred sites that are vital to the preservation of regional Native American culture.

In 2016, when the land was declared a national monument, it was a hard-fought win for the Hopi, Zuni, Ute and Navajo Nations. These tribes, who have historically been at odds, have put aside their differences to protect their ancestral land and form the Bears Ears Coalition.

These lands are immersed in Native American traditions that began well before the European settlers invaded the land and took it as their own. Still today, the land has an abundance of rock art and Petroglyphs, which should be among our current president’s priorities to preserve for future generations.

The Coalition finally felt validated by the Obama Administration, as they were being heard by the government at last. This led them to believe that the government would be responding to their needs. They had secured the land from outside interests that would exploit it for financial gain. Bears Ears is the only national monument where tribes, the native stewards of the land, have been allowed to take on a role in helping manage the land alongside federal agencies.

Oil drilling and mining for other resources are notorious for polluting the land and water around their sites.

Our president cited “massive overreach by our previous democratic presidents” as a reason to cut back the protections by such a large margin. But it is clearly a way to play toward his base by supporting oil and mining industries when we should be focusing on supporting renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

This may be the beginning of a trend of reducing the land that is protected under the national monument and national park provisions to make way for oil, gas and mining industries. Trump is actively supporting an industry that will be obsolete in the future. Obama laid a foundation for solar and wind industries to grow and flourish, and Trump is proving that he will do anything to undo the environmental progress that we saw during our previous presidential administration. I believe as a country we should refine our focus on the future of energy rather than supporting destructive and outdated forms of unsustainable energy production.

If we as a nation continue to support practices that are stripping our country of its valuable history, then we will cause irreversible damage and will lose many important artifacts that are critical to the preservation of Native American culture.

The theft of these protected lands will threaten 100,000 sites of archaeological importance in the monument’s desert landscapes. Stripping our nation of these important sites to make way for a destructive and unnecessary industry makes it clear where our president’s values are.

These are the kinds of circumstances that make me realize how important it is for the population to vote in general, but especially for candidates that will protect our environment.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *