Alas, the plan was poorly received by environmentalists and the tribal coalition favoring a monument. (“The PLI has been disparaged by most environmental people who say it just cut too much out of the protection side and left too much in the drilling side,” Wilson said.) Bishop and Chaffetz say they have received zero feedback from the administration. No matter: Bishop will hold final hearings on the bill next week, and then start moving it out of committee. Still, the chairman acknowledged that the plan likely wouldn’t get to the House floor before the election. “But I expect there to be a long lame duck session, and a great deal can be accomplished during that time.”
For Bishop, this battle is about more than the fate of 1.9 million—or even 18 million—acres in his home state.
A Tea Party conservative, Bishop is famous for his opposition to the federal oversight of public lands in general. Last year, he and fellow Utah Representative Chris Stewart launched the Federal Land Action Group (FLAG), aimed at developing “a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control.” This—and other similar efforts—prompted the Center for American Progress to dub Bishop the head of Congress’s “anti-parks caucus.”
But Bishop harbors a special loathing for the Antiquities Act. It is, he told a gathering of Western state land commissioners last summer, “the most evil act ever invented.” Of its fans, he said: “If anyone here likes the Antiquities Act the way it is written, die. I mean, [get the] stupidity out of the gene pool!”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bishop’s PLI package would specifically prohibit the president from using the Antiquities Act in the seven Utah counties covered by the plan.
There are a number of fundamental problems with the law, Bishop told me. For starters, “it’s terribly outdated,” enacted “when there were  states and no environmental laws.” Worse still, he said, “it’s intellectually flawed.” Decisions about public lands, he believes, “should be a legislative not an administrative concept.” It was “dumb” for Congress to cede this authority back in the day. “But it doesn’t mean they should continue on just because they did something dumb last century.”
The PLI is far from Bishop’s first shot at reining in this presidential prerogative. “I have done things in the past,” he assured me, including an effort to subject the president to the same procedural hoops that Congress must jump through when protecting land. Bishop says that over the years he has gotten a “myriad” of such bills through the House—just not the Senate.
Bishop isn’t fighting this fight alone. Chaffetz is firmly on the anti-Antiquities Act bandwagon. “It’s the intrusiveness of the federal government that is unrelenting,” he said. “It feels like Washington, D.C., is coming into our backyard and altering people’s lives.”