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"This designation will in no way limit our ability to perform our important border security mission, and in fact provides important flexibility as we work to meet this ongoing priority," said spokeswoman Jenny L. Burke. "CBP is committed to continuing to work closely with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to maintain border security while ensuring the protection of the environment along the border."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also weighed in against the designation.
"The Antiquities Act’s intent is to protect threatened areas — not for presidential designations of new national monuments," Hatch said. "Instead of trying to appease his environmentalist allies and make further broad designations like the one made today, the president should actually try to work with Congress for a change so we can find a solution that everyone can agree on."
Nearly a year ago, a Bureau of Land Management official testified before Congress that he wasn’t aware of any efforts to name the Organ Mountains a national monument.
Bishop, on Wednesday, chuckled when asked about that exchange.
"Whether it’s honest or not, they still legally have to say it," Bishop said, noting that the Organ Mountains were among several places highlighted in a draft Interior memo in 2010 suggesting possible monument designations. "But if all these things are part of the [memo] ... and they’re all coming to pass, I’m sorry, you have to question the veracity of interior when they make those statements."
The House recently passed legislation by Bishop that would subject national monument designations of more than 5,000 acres to an environmental review, though the Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the measure.
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