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March 25, 2013

Using executive power, Obama will name five new national monuments

President Barack Obama will designate five new national monuments in a closed signing ceremony at the White House Monday.

The monuments are: the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; First State National Monument in Delaware; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State. 

Obama has said -- most recently in his State of the Union address -- that he would use executive actions when he can if Congress fails to act, particularly in the area of energy and climate change.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have repeatedly declined to create more parks. The last Congress was the first in six decade to not set aside land for protection as a park or monument.

Although initially reticent of using executive action, Obama has come to rely on it when a divided Congress stands in his way.

This time, he is using power granted to him under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to set aside important natural, cultural and historical sites for permanent protection. 

In his first term, Obama created four monuments: the César E. Chávez National Monument in California, the Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, the Fort Ord National Monument in California and the Chimney Rock National Monument in the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado.

The lunchtime event in the Oval Office is listed on the president's public schedule but is closed to the press. Obama will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

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