On Monday, President Donald Trump announced his decision to enact the largest reduction of protection of public lands in United States history.
The reductions — more than 1.1 million acres (85 percent) for Bears Ears and more than 800,000 (46 percent) for Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah — angered activists who protested outside the White House. Conservative lawmakers, however, welcomed the decision, which opened land for potential energy exploration, The Washington Post reported.
While speaking to a crowd in Salt Lake City on Monday, Trump framed the decision as a way to give Utahans back their voice and restore their “access” and “enjoyment of the land.”
“Public lands will once again be for public use,” Trump added.
Trump's controversial decision was the first time in more than half a century that a U.S. president altered monuments created by the 1906 Antiquities Act. Previous administrations, Trump argued, abused the Antiquities Act's “purpose, spirit, and intent” by using the law “to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.”
“These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to far-away bureaucrats at the expense of the people who actually live here, work here, and make this place their home,” Trump told the crowd. He added that previous administrations threatened “local economies” and Utahans' “very way of life.”
Watch Trump's comments below, via Fox Business.