President Trump holds up the pen he used to slash two national monuments in Utah on December 4, 2017. If environmentalists defeat President Donald Trump’s order to strike conservation protections from more than 2 million acres of public land, they will likely have a minor legal ruling issued last week to thank. On Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., handed a procedural victory to the coalition of indigenous nations, outdoor-activity companies, and environmental groups suing the U.S. government over the cuts to two expanses of wilderness in Utah. The decision sets the stage for the acrimonious legal battle to come, about whether President Trump can shrink Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument nearly in half. His cuts rank among the largest ever made to any national monument. Both monuments, located in southern Utah, were created by Democratic presidents. Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling last week gave the environmentalists two key advantages in that fight. First, she ordered that the president’s legal opponents must receive advance notice of any plans to break new ground at the site. She also denied the government’s bid to transfer the case to a federal court in Utah, […]

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