President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that targets 25 existing National Monuments that he wants to release back to the states as opposed to letting them remain under government control. The order impacts the Declaration of National Monuments that goes back as far as 1996. The executive order goes after protections put in place by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The order has given Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke the job to review protections put on those monuments that span at least 100,000 acres. The order referred to a 1906 law called the Antiquities Act which gives a president the power to protect land that is under threat.

More recently, former President Obama used that act to declare the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument protected property which the administration referred to by name in the order. Bears Ears was specifically targeted by Utah Republicans which they asked the Trump administration to specifically rescind.

Executive order and Congress

Trump's reasoning for this is much like his reasoning for lifting protections on Arctic drilling, and others that are related to loosening up environmental regulations, saying that they were crippling the industry.

Utah Republicans claim that ranching and mining industries were being affected by President Obama's initial order. And while these arguments frequently make up for what comes from the conservative base, it's said that this is the first time that a president has ever revoked a site's status without re-entering them into some other mode of protected status.

President Trump's bold and brash approach to what he's doing away with under his signed executive orders has upset many environmentalist and now conservationists to boot. It's also likely to test legislation as to what a President can or cannot do. One of the arguments being presented is whether he has the power to do away with these protections without Congress.

One article by The Conservation, a site for academics and scholars, says that Congress has only reversed these protections 10 times in over a century. It also points out that after Zinke's review, the President could try to unravel those protections or start to okay extraction techniques in those areas.

Trump clearing way for the fossil fuel industry

According to another report published with Five Thirty-Eight, Ryan Zinke considers himself to be a conservationist but it's unknown whether he will go to bat for these national monuments. Trump has said that he wants to hand the land back over to the states.

However, this is clearly part of another agenda to get rid of all Obama-era policies, further erasing the former president's legacy.

But there is another reason as to why President Trump is going after these monuments, and while it hasn't been said, and is currently not immediately possible to achieve, it is land with resources. Trump has made no secret of empowering the fossil fuel industry and as mentioned with his lifting of protections in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans for offshore drilling, it's so those fossil fuel industries can get to those riches. That's the pattern revealed from this administration and with ongoing conflicts of interest and other clear indications that he's profiting from his role in the White House, this could be another foot in the door.