Last week, in one of his final moves out of the Oval Office, Obama executively designated more than 1.5 million acres of land as national monuments, preserving their untouched façade while closing them to human expansion, development, energy use, ranching or state or local jurisdiction.
In a move ignored by the liberal media last week, Obama unilaterally seized more than 1.3 million acres from Utah to establish the Bears Ears Monument, preserving it at the behest of conservationist groups and Native American tribes who claimed the land was sacred. Utah’s state legislature, however, opposed the unilateral land grab across party lines, with many speculating that Obama’s move is the latest in an attempt to limit efforts from incoming President Donald Trump to expand domestic energy production.
Obama also claimed 300,000 acres in Clark County, Nevada, as the Gold Butte National Monument, effectively closing the area off to future development for uranium mining, oil drilling or natural gas production.
While it’s certainly nothing new, Obama’s habit of unilaterally confiscating land has ramped up heading into the final stretch of his presidency. In the eight years he’s been in office, President Obama has seized more than 553 million acres of land and water (roughly 865,000 square miles) and placed it under federal ownership and control – enough square mileage to cover the entire state of Texas more than three times over. In fact, the self-aggrandizing conservationist-in-chief has placed more land and coastal areas under federal control than any other president in history, shutting off millions of miles of land to energy production or human settlement, along with shifting it outside the scope of local and state jurisdictions.
Just this past summer, Obama bragged about executively creating the nation’s largest marine preserve off the coast of Hawaii, conveniently omitting that the move took a $10 million chunk out of the local fishing industry.
Wielding the Antiquities Act of 1906, Obama has seized vast swaths of land and water for the federal government a total of 29 times, claiming more than 260 million acres as federally-protected spaces in 2016 alone (including a more than 100-million-acre plot in Alaska that amounts to the size of New Mexico).
In fact, of the 154 times the Antiquities Act has been used by a president to seize land over the past 110 years, President Obama’s executive land grabs together make up about 20 percent.
Thanks to executive actions by Obama and presidents like him, more than 80 percent of the state of Nevada and about 65 percent of Utah is now owned by the federal government, according to the National Public Radio.