President Bush did something for only the second time in his two-term presidency: he created a national monument. No, not with building blocks, but by invoking the 1906 National Antiquities Act and protecting over 139,000 square miles of largely uninhabitated islands, reefs, and atolls. Once under jurisdiction, the area would be protected by the strongest environmental laws available and actively monitored by state and federal agencies. While not certain to happen, a ban on commercial fishing in the area would “create the largest no-take marine reserve in the nation, second in the world only to the Great Barrier Reef.” Currently, there are ships in the area that use the coral-damaging “bottomfishing” technique to troll for snappers and seabass. Such a ban would help alleviate stress on the reefs and wildlife. While conservatives will certainly use this latest good news to prove to environmentalists that Bush is paying attention to the natural world, one should note that President Clinton created 19 national monuments and expanded existing legislation to set aside 5.9 million acres in the West. It’s nice to see that the administration is following in his footsteps by expanding existing legislation created under his tenure….at least until natural gas is discovered under the sea-floor.