Congressman Paul Gosar Lashes Out at Grand Canyon Monument Bill Supporters

Once again, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar has harsh words for those who disagree with him; though unlike in the past, his latest comments aren't directed at the Pope or Planned Parenthood or what appears to be his favorite target, the Environmental Protection Agency.

This time he's going after a congressional colleague, Tucson U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, and the alliance of politicians and "environmental extremists" supporting Grijalva’s bill to ban uranium mining near the Grand Canyon by declaring the area a national monument — Gosar goes so far as to suggest that the “double-dealing bill isn’t even worth the paper it was printed on.”

Grijalva introduced his Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act this week with wide support from environmental groups and leaders of the Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo, and Hopi tribes, but Gosar, backed by other conservative politicians and a long list of interest groups, is fiercely and vocally opposed to the effort:

“Grijalva’s bill, pandering to extremist environmental groups, will kill jobs, stifle development, [and] permanently prevent mining and future grazing leases,” Gosar stated.
“I encourage the southern Arizona congressman to focus on killing jobs and locking up millions of acres of land in his own district.”

Gosar goes on to say that Grijalva is using “tribes as political pawns to implement the misguided agenda of extremist environmental groups” and that the legislative effort “has no chance of passing Congress.”

While the latter statement may be true because of timing constraints, according to a statement released by Grijalva’s office earlier this week, “Grijalva plans to also ask President Obama to establish the proposed monument administratively” by invoking the Antiquities Act — the law that allows presidents to declare national monuments by executive order.

Gosar’s response? “[This plan] is a deceitful attempt to provide political cover for the president should he fail to recognize significant opposition from local Arizona communities and once again abuse his power with one stroke of a pen under the Antiquities Act.”

In February, Gosar sent a letter to the White House demanding that Obama not create the national monument, and then in July, he spearheaded an amendment to a bill that banned the president from designating national monuments in areas with “significant local opposition.”
While Gosar includes a long list of private and public groups supporting his amendment, Katie Davis from the Center for Biological Diversity — one of the so-called “extremist environmental groups” Gosar can’t stand — says the only things that “do not have any support are...Gosar’s claims and misleading statements about this proposal.”

She says he “demonstrates an extreme lack of respect for tribal communities,” with comments about tribal leaders being de facto political pawns, and that “this legislation represents significant and groundbreaking work by Congressman Grijalva to address a historical lack of [tribal] inclusion in the management of Grand Canyon’s watershed.”

Sandy Bahr, director of the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club — another of the “extremist environmental groups” — says that Gosar’s statements “show his utter lack of respect for tribes and for the people of Arizona who have consistently supported public lands protection and rejected measures that seek to privatize and harm them.

“He has taken his disregard [of tribal concerns] to a whole new level with these comments. Representative Grijalva is to be commended for working with tribes to make sure their voices are heard rather than trying to run over them and their concerns as Congressman Gosar has done.”

Both also take issue with Gosar’s claims that the bill would destroy jobs and the local economy:

“There is no evidence to support his claim that a monument designation will kill jobs. In fact, to the contrary, monuments have been good for local economies. Research demonstrates positive growth in local communities surrounding national monuments, including personal income to rates of employment,” Bahr says.

“[But] once again,” she adds, Gosar “does not let the facts get in the way” of his agenda.

Watch a video about the proposed monument in the Grand Canyon Watershed:
**Update 11/6/15. Read a copy of Grijalva's Bill:

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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser