AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is telling the Secretary of the Interior, that his boss, the president, has no legal authority to un-designate Maine's national monument. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is due in Maine Wednesday and Thursday to take a tour of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument as part of a review of a number of national monument sites nationwide.
Pouring through pages of documents Tuesday afternoon, Mills says she has a tally of hundreds of meetings proponents of the national monument held to get public input. She says that proves the monument was designated by the letter of the law and that un-designating the land would violate the law
"As a legal matter we question that there's any authority for the president or the administration to renege on the decision of the administration last year," she said. "The authority is to designate not un-designate it's a simple as that."
The critics have argued that those closest to the national monument in the towns of Medway, East Millinocket and Patten all overwhelmingly voted against the national monument in public votes and that is reason to believe this designation could be challenged. Secretary Zinke will make a recommendation to the president after touring the land. Mills is hopeful he'll agree it should stand.
"The time is going to put behind us to for the controversy behind us and move forward and invite people to come and enjoy this beautiful area of Maine," she said.
Attorney General Mills stopped short of threatening a lawsuit should a decision to un-designate the land move forward but certainly hinted that was an option that she and other attorneys general in other states could consider.
NEWS CENTER did reach out to Secretary Zinke but our emails were not answered..
There will be media availability with the Zinke on Wednesday and Thursday.