As president, Barack Obama became the biggest land grabber in U.S. history by decreeing from Washington D.C. that millions of acres of land are now the property of the federal government.
Many western states are furious with Obama’s ruling, but outdoor apparel company Patagonia is all for it — so much so that the company is pledging its own small fortune to fight plans to reverse Obama’s decrees.
The high-end apparel company already spent $1 million to support Democrats with a November get-out-the-vote drive and kicked in another $10 million of its profits from Black Friday to help fund various left-wing environmental groups. But now it is turning its attention to the state of Utah as officials there gear up to fight against Obama’s late term Utah land grab.
With one foot already out the door in the last days of his reign, President Obama decreed that another 1.35 million acres of Utah state land will become a “national monument” owned by the federal government. The land grab in Utah is only a small part of the 553 million acres Obama has taken away from state residents.
While no president has ever reversed a previous president’s national monument designations, there is nothing in the 1906 Antiquities Act that states a president can’t return land previously designated as public land. Still, there has never been a test to the idea in court.
State officials were hardly pleased with the midnight land grab.
“This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand,” Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee said of Obama’s actions in a statement. “I will work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation.”
The people of Utah were not pleased either. A November poll of Utah residents showed that 60 percent oppose Obama’s land grab, while only 33 percent support it.
Despite the feelings of the elected officials and voters of Utah, the Patagonia company is working to defeat their wish to have their land returned to them.
Because state officials are looking to roll back Obama’s rules, Patagonia is now threatening to pull out of Salt Lake City’s biannual Outdoor Retailer Show, an event that brings 45,000 tourists to the city and earns up to $40 million in revenue annually.
“We’re going to fight with everything that we have,” Patagonia chief executive Rose Marcario told The Huffington Post on November 12. “What we have is our economic power and the ability to withdraw from it if we need to.”
The California-based company, which has a long history of donating to Democrat politicians and causes, is gearing up to fight against any moves President Donald Trump may take to address Obama’s land grabs.
But Patagonia also has a troublesome history of its own, with ties to human trafficking and child labor in its supply chain.
According to Huffington Post, other outdoors companies are also looking to stymie state citizens from retaking control of their own land. Peter Metcalf, chief executive of the outdoor gear company Black Diamond Equipment, also criticized Utah officials for wanting their land returned.
“Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah’s D.C. delegation are leading a national all-out assault on the sanctity of Utah and the country’s public lands,” Metcalf wrote in an op ed in The Salt Lake Tribune. “This agenda is antithetical to our industry, let alone the majority of our citizens regardless of party affiliation.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.