What is harder to explain than eminent domain is this massive land-grab by the Feds. What makes it hard to explain is that the states opposed having their land seized by the central government, and it is not at all clear to me that the states aren't the proper sovereign for this purpose.
Obama unilaterally seized more than 1.3 million acres from Utah to establish the Bears Ears Monument, preserving it at the behest of conservationist groups and Native American tribes who claimed the land was sacred. Utah’s state legislature, however, opposed the unilateral land grab across party lines, with many speculating that Obama’s move is the latest in an attempt to limit efforts from incoming President Donald Trump to expand domestic energy production.This act defied a resolution by the state legislature in Utah opposing any new Federal land-grabs in their state. Utah's legislature doubtless feels a particular urgency about this, as 80% of the state has already been seized by the Federal government.
Obama also claimed 300,000 acres in Clark County, Nevada, as the Gold Butte National Monument, effectively closing the area off to future development for uranium mining, oil drilling or natural gas production.
While it's certainly nothing new, Obama's habit of unilaterally confiscating land has ramped up heading into the final stretch of his presidency. In the eight years he’s been in office, President Obama has seized more than 553 million acres of land and water (roughly 865,000 square miles) and placed it under federal ownership and control – enough square mileage to cover the entire state of Texas more than three times over.
Among the constitutional re-thinking associated with the recent election has been a call to abolish the states, and run everything from the central government. This is (of course) exactly the opposite of what I think is the wise course. Nevertheless, I wonder if this isn't a functional means of doing it without the bother of a Constitutional amendment.
Self-government by the citizens of Utah now applies to only 20% of the land that is notionally within their borders. Why not 1%? Just as it has become common to set up "free speech zones" near political events (or on college campuses), why not restrict self-government to a couple of small towns or some other designated area? The few who care about living free could move, and the rest could continue to have their lives ordered by a friendly, distant Big Brother.
Perhaps we could call those last remaining free areas "Reservations." That would create a nice symmetry.