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Ancient granaries are seen in Bears Ears National Monument outside Blanding, Utah, in 2017. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

President Biden announced Friday the protection of the expansion of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the New England coast.

Why it matters: The decision reverses a Trump-era policy that reduced the Bears Ears Monument's size by 85% in 2017. It also comes after a coalition of Native American tribes urged Biden to restore the monument.

Driving the news: "This may be the easiest thing I've ever done so far as President," Biden said before signing legislation to restore protections for the three national monuments.

  • "These protections provide a bridge to our past, but they also build a bridge to a safer, more sustainable future. One where we strengthen our economy, and pass on a healthy planet to our children and our grandchildren," Biden said.

The moves are consistent with recommendations from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, per the White House. They are supported by the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Justice as well as the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

  • The White House said administration officials met with members of Congress, state and local government officials, representatives of Tribal Nations and other stakeholders before coming to a decision. Haaland also visited Utah to directly meet with local residents and tour the area.
  • Bears Ears and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts were established by former President Obama in 2016. Grand Staircase-Escalante was created by former President Clinton in 1996.

What they're saying: "Today's announcement, it's not just about national monuments. It's about this administration centering the voices of indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations," Haaland said Friday.

  • "The President's actions today writes the new chapter that embraces indigenous knowledge, ensures tribal leadership has a seat at the table and demonstrates that by working together, we can build a brighter future for all of us."

The other side: "The President's decision to enlarge the monuments again is a tragic missed opportunity — it fails to provide certainty as well as the funding for law enforcement, research, and other protections which the monuments need and which only Congressional action can offer," wrote Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in a statement.

Go deeper: Tribes urge Biden to restore Bears Ears National Monument after Trump-era cuts

Go deeper

Biden briefly transfers power to Harris while he gets colonoscopy

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden briefly transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris while he underwent a routine colonoscopy at Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, according to the White House.

Why it matters: The move made Harris the first woman to hold presidential power in U.S. history.

Senate confirms Charles Sams III as first Native American to head National Park Service

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

The Senate this week voted to unanimously confirm Charles Sams III as director of the National Park Service, making him the first Native American to head the agency.

State of play: Sams is the first director to be confirmed by the Senate in five years, AP reports. Jonathan Jarvis, who was confirmed under the Obama administration, left the position in 2017 and, since then, the agency has been led by acting directors.

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.