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If President Adopts Zinke's Report, Utah Officials May Join Likely Sup. Court Battle

Correction: A previous version of this story claimed that the public comment period ended with the submission of Sec. Zinke's report last Thursday. The formal comment period actually ended July 10. The story has been changed to reflect this.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to shrink two Utah National Monuments is expected to face major legal fights if adopted by President Trump.

As the Washington Post reports, Sec. Zinke is recommending three monuments be changed: including shrinkages to both Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. With Sec. Zinke’s latest recommendation last Thursday, President Trump’s 27 national monument review is officially over.

Noelle Straub, natural resources editor for E&E News, said because of the sparse details of Sec. Zinke’s report, the question of when the shrinkage will occur -- and by how much -- is up in the air.

“We know that the White House will now take a look at the report; go over Sec. Zinke’s recommendations in-depth and decide whether to follow through on them or not,” she said. “However, they have not given us a timeline, so we don’t really know when they’re going to tell us which monuments will be cut.”

Republican State Representative Mike Noel who authored a resolution this year to reduce or remove the Grand Staircase considers this a victory for his constituents. However, he is expecting legal challenges to Trump’s future decision.

“This will have to go to the Supreme Court -- I’m almost positive and I think we’ll prevail so we need to have the funds there to be able to do that,” he said.

Like previously, in the case of 2012’s Transfer of Public Lands Act, Noel wants the state to become a party in the lawsuit.

“It was my intention to pass a resolution this year, if we have to come back into special session, to tee-up a resolution that would say just that, that if in fact a lawsuit were engaged by different parties, that we would become a party to the challenge of that lawsuit to make sure the decision of the president is upheld in the Supreme Court,” Noel said.