Ken Salazar Denies Plot to Unilaterally Designate National Monuments

March 5 2010, 11:33 AM

The difference between a national monument and a national park is that the president may decree a monument by executive order. A national park has to be approved by Congress. That's why there's a ruckus right now over an Interior Department memo unearthed by Congressman Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican, who says it outlines a plot by the Obama administration to convert public lands through the West into national monuments, which would block oil and gas drilling. But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee there is no "hidden federal agenda" to create monuments (via The Salt Lake Tribune). He downplays the leaked memo, which includes 14 potential new monuments, saying he is simply getting ideas from his staff, reports The Hill. "As secretary of the department, I'm interested in finding out what my employees are thinking," Salazar says. The list includes one site in Colorado, the Vermillion Basin.