Assignment #3

Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Natural Resources Law Spring 2018                                       Assignment#2 Antiquities Act


OVERVIEW: This assignment provides an opportunity to draft an opinion editorial essay for a newspaper (i.e., an OpEd). Advocacy institutes, researchers, and organizations often prepare such documents. The tone is also similar to that we see with blog entries, an activity that attorneys increasingly engage in. Substantively, this assignment will give you a chance to delve into the Antiquities Act and consider the President’s role in protecting natural resources.


BACKGROUND FACTS: There has been a long tradition of U.S. presidents using the Antiquities Act to set aside large and small areas of land for protection. The Act allows the president to designate lands as worthy of special protection and the label “National Monument.” Presidents Clinton and Obama invoked this statute to protect large areas of the country, including a particular focus on Utah. Two of the National Monuments in Utah (Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears) are now under fire from the Trump administration. President Trump greatly reduced the size the monuments in a move that took effect on February 2, 2018. His ability to do so under the Antiquities Act is being challenged in federal court from several different plaintiffs.


TASK: You will be writing an OpEd arguing either for or against President Trump’s decision to shrink already-designated national monuments: Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears. You must talk about the Antiquities Act and what it does or does not require, but the rest of the content is up to you. For this assignment, you may choose a client or write on your own behalf. You have four options:


  • Scott Groene, Executive Director of SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance), a nonprofit organization seeking to protect special areas in Utah
  • Lee J. Peacock, Executive Director of UPA (Utah Petroleum Association), a coalition of companies working in every aspect of the petroleum industry
  • Andrew McCullough, a persistent (but not yet successful) libertarian candidate for Attorney General in Utah.
  • Yourself as a legal researcher and expert in this area of the law.


In drafting an OpEd for a client, you write it as though your client wrote it. You will even sign their name to it, not your own. If you write on your own behalf, include your credentials (concerned citizen, legal expert, NPS volunteer). Also, OpEds generally must be from individuals—not the organization as a whole. An opinionated editorial essay is one of the few articles in a newspaper that is open to anyone with something to say.[1] They give people not affiliated with the editorial staff an opportunity to share an authoritative view or perspective on current events or local concerns. The Los Angeles Times reported that the average length of its op-ed columns is approximately 750 words, while The Wall Street Journal asks for 600-1,200 jargon-free words. Other op-ed pieces range from 400-700 words.  Your assignment is due via email by noon on Friday March 16th. 

[1] It is also a column that is generally found opposite the editorial page. Both are considered reasons for the name “op-ed.”


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