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Emails Show Bears Ears Monument Possibly Shrunk Because Of Oil

In December, Trump announced he planned to shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent.
Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 02, 2018

The Trump administration's decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah might have been influenced by the potential for oil and gas exploration on the protected site. 

That's according to a New York Times report published Friday that cited Department of Interior emails. 

One of those emails shows an aide for Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote a department official in March 2017, asking the agency to consider a boundary change for the national monument that "would resolve all known mineral conflicts."

The aide was referring to so-called trust lands, which are parcels of land that Utah leases to gas, oil and mineral companies to support state institutions. 

About a month after that email was sent, President Donald Trump ordered the Interior Department to review certain monument designations.  

As part of its review, the agency was required to determine how much coal, oil and gas production would've taken place on each site if it hadn't been designated federally protected land.

In December, Trump announced he planned to shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent. The Times noted the White House essentially adopted the same monument borders suggested in that March 2017 email.