A leaked Department of Interior document, reported in The New York Times, names 14 new sites the Obama administration is considering designating as National Monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
The apparent secrecy surrounding the document has riled Republican Congress members like Bob Bishop (R-Utah). National Monuments can be designated by the President and do not require Congressional approval like National Parks.
Nearly every president since Roosevelt, under whose presidency the act was passed, has designated areas as National Monuments. Only Nixon and Reagan did not.
In addition to complaints about presidential power, conservatives believe these lands were chosen for protection specifically because they shelter valuable fuel resources such as coal and natural gas. National Monument designation would put an end-run around possible exploitation.