Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument


"Stroke of the pen. Law of the land.
Kinda cool."

Paul Begala

White House Advisor



On September 18, 1996, President Clinton, under the authority of the Antiquities Act (Act of June 8, 1906, Section 2) signed Presidential Proclamation 6920 that unilaterally changed 1.7 million acres of Utah land into the "Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument." Citing the potential dangers of mining to this wilderness, President Clinton grouped several undeveloped mines into the Monument, proclaiming that he had done this "for the children."1

He lied.

In 1995, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) released a report indicating that "the greatest value derived from the land would be its energy producing abilities."2 By March 26, 1996, Kathleen McGinty, Chair of the CEQ (Council on Environmental Quality) had already determined that the land proposed was "not really endangered."3 The Monument’s linchpin was the Kaiparowits Plateau, which contained some 62 billion tons of coal, worth approximately $1 trillion. Nestled onto the Plateau was the "Warm Springs Project," containing some 30 million tons of coal.4

In 1990, Andalex Resources, Inc., the largest federal leaseholder with interest in the Kaiparowits Plateau, launched a 7 year, $8 million dollar EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) investigation to determine what effect, if any, the Warm Springs mining operation would have on both the people and the surrounding lands.5 The EIS was required under NEPA (National Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines.6 The organizations responsible for compiling the EIS were the BLM and OSMRE (Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement).7

According to records obtain by members of the House of Representatives, the final draft stages of Andalex’s EIS were in progress; hence, the condition of the land could, presumably, have been determined by BLM personnel and Ms. McGinty.8

When President Clinton swiped his pen across Proclamation 6920, he also swiped 7 years and $8 million dollars worth of Andalex’s work down the drain.9 Further, Congressional reports allege that while Ms. McGinty was putting Andalex through the BLM/NEPA paces, she was also looking for loopholes in NEPA that would allow the President to create the Grand Staircase Monument.10

But why?

The Lippo Group has offices, banking, and construction interests in Indonesia. Not surprisingly, one of the world’s other sources of high-compliance coal is located in Kalamantan, Indonesia.11 One of the top investors in the Kalamantan mining operation (as well as other coal operations), HKBA Nominees (Hong Kong Bank of Australia), a subsidiary of Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, has offices in Jakarta, where Riady lives; conversely, Lippo has offices in Australia, where HKBA is located.12

The Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Centre in Australia, Richard McKenzie Charlton, also sits on the Board for HKBA.13 Zhu Zhenyuan, the Minister Counselor for the People’s Republic of China, sits on the board for the Asia-Pacific Centre with Charlton.14

Further, "China is both the world's largest producer and consumer of coal, which supplies about 75 percent of the country's total energy needs…Sources indicate that by 1994, the PRC had become the largest coal producing country in the world."15

And how could the President claim he did this "for the children," when the Utah School Trust was directly connected to the coal-economy? Enter HR 3830, The Utah Schools And Land Exchange Act of 1998, Congress’ attempt to rectify the damage the President had done. Utah received only a fragment of the potential revenue in exchange for dropping various lawsuits against the Government.16

"The mine would have also returned substantial revenues to the federal treasury from sources such as personal and corporate income taxes and excise taxes, as well as the mining-specific revenues. At full production these revenues would include: ``$1.75 million annually from the retained share of mineral royalties, $2.15 million in payments into the Federal Black Lung Program, and $375,000 for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation (AML) Fund. Federal highway users’ revenues would exceed $1.24 million annually at full production.''17

A fair exchange? Considering how the Utah State Assembly, the Senators, and Congressmen were not informed about the creation of the Monument until 9 days before it happened (or, in certain cases, after it happened), some parties disagree.18

As late as March 25, 1999, legislation was still being introduced to address this issue. Senator Craig (R-Idaho) introduced the National Monument Public Participation Act of 1999. (34) According to Congressional records, Mr. Craig advised that when he initially introduced the bill to protect his specific state, he "was immediately approached by several other senators seeking the same protection for their state."19

In other words, members of Congress are now attempting to pass legislation to "protect" the United States from the President.


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