Principal Investigators

Randy T Simmons, Ph.D – Department of Economics and Finace – Utah State University

Ryan M Yonk, Ph.D – Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice – Southern Utah University

With

Kayla Dawn Harris & Megan Hansen – Center for Public Lands and Rural Economics

Student Research Associates:
Joshua Bennion, Matthew Coates, Richard Criddle, Nicholas S. Hilton, Jordan Hunt, Andrew Izatt, Justine Larsen, Neal Mason, Grant Timothy Patty, Ian Dean Summers, Zach Volin

Executive Summary

Background

The 1906 Antiquities Act made it possible for the President to designate an area a national monument, thus limiting the activities that are allowed within the monument. The act was born out of a growing movement during the late 19th century to preserve archaeological sites, especially those in the Southwest (McManamon, 2000). Section 2 of the American Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the President to establish national monuments in areas that include “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest,” located on public lands.

Although some public lands like Yellowstone National Park had already achieved some level of protection, the Antiquities Act changed the nature of public lands protection. For national parks and reserves to gain federal protection, both Congressional and Presidential approval is necessary. After passage of the Antiquities Act, national monuments can be established quickly through presidential action alone (McManamon, 2000). Further, although the act calls for the protection of “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected,” monuments often encompass large areas of land. President Bill Clinton, for example, designated Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 2000, which covers almost 1.9 million acres of land in southern Utah (Bureau of Land Management, 2013).

Although some public lands like Yellowstone National Park had already achieved some level of protection, the Antiquities Act changed the nature of public lands protection. For national parks and reserves to gain federal protection, both Congressional and Presidential approval is necessary. After passage of the Antiquities Act, national monuments can be established quickly through presidential action alone (McManamon, 2000). Further, although the act calls for the protection of “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected,” monuments often encompass large areas of land. President Bill Clinton, for example, designated Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 2000, which covers almost 1.9 million acres of land in southern Utah (Bureau of Land Management, 2013).

In this report we explore potential energy resources located in national monuments across the U.S. Below we present twelve case studies exploring the conflicts between national monument management officials and residents. Each case study includes information on the geography of the national monument and tells the story of the parties involved in the monument’s designation and use. These stories illustrate how the given monument’s designation affects organizations and individuals by limiting how the land can be used. Each case also outlines potential conventional and renewable energy resources located within the monument and includes an overview of relevant regulations. Each case study is written as a standalone document so that interested parties can read either all twelve cases or just focus on a single example.

Data for this report were primarily taken from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, and U.S. Department of Energy. Information from local organizations’ websites and newspapers was also used. We used these various sources to create a picture of energy resources in national monuments that is as complete as possible.

Summary of Results

In exploring the natural resources in each national monument we considered both conventional, fossil fuel-based energy potential as well as renewable energy potential. We found that five out of the twelve monuments explored in detail had significant potential for oil and coal development, and these findings are shown in Table 1.1. Four monuments had potential for natural gas development and three monuments showed significant potential for the development of energy from shale. Out of the five monuments with some possibility of conventional energy development, all have the potential for more than one type of fossil fuel based energy development. Dinosaur, Colorado, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments all have potential for oil, natural gas, coal, and shale production.

As Table 1.1 shows, Dinosaur, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Colorado, Upper Missouri River Breaks, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments all have identifiable oil production potential. Natural gas production is possible in Dinosaur, Colorado, Upper Missouri River Breaks, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments. Coal could be produced in Dinosaur, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Colorado, Upper Missouri River Breaks, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments. Dinosaur, Colorado, and Canyons of the Ancients are the only three that have potential for development of energy from shale.

To craft a more complete picture of the energy resources locked away in national monuments we must also explore renewable energy potential. We examined solar, geothermal, and wind energy potential in each of the twelve case studies and our results are outlined in Table 1.2. Ten monuments had the potential for at least one type of renewable energy development with the majority of these examples being solar potential. Four monuments had the potential for more than one of these types of renewable energy development.

As Table 1.2 shows, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, Giant Sequoia, Colorado, Grand Canyon-Parashant/Vermilion Cliffs, Organ Pipe Cactus, Ironwood Forest, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments all had potential for solar energy production. Only Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument had the potential for development of geothermal energy. Potential wind energy was found in Cape Krusentstern, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, Grand Canyon-Parashant/Vermillion Cliffs, and Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monuments. Only Dinosaur and Admiralty Island National Monuments had no identifiable potential for any of these three types of renewable
energy.

Under the Antiquities Act and through their respective management plans, national monuments fall under strict protection. Because of this, development of potential energy resources is often impossible. This study shows the opportunity cost of designating national monuments by illustrating how much of our potential energy is locked up in these protected public lands.