The U.S. Department of the Interior dove into 2018 with a proposal to open roughly the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (hereinafter “OCS”) for potential oil and gas lease sales. The proposal is in furtherance of the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (hereinafter “National OSC Program”). The National OCS Program currently preserves ninety-four percent of the total OCS acreage by prohibiting any oil and gas exploration, or development therein. However, the January proposal made by U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, would open ninety-percent of the total OCS acreage for potential offshore drilling—almost a complete conversion from closed to exposed.
On Monday, December 4, 2017, President Trump signed presidential proclamations to shrink both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, resulting in the largest reduction of public-lands protection in the history of our nation. While some have supported the decision, there are many others who have strongly opposed it, bringing an unexplored legal question into the limelight: Does the 1906 Antiquities Act give the president the power to modify or eliminate national monuments, as well as designate?