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Environmental lobbyists are pressing President Obama to turn more western lands into national monuments to prevent oil-and-gas companies from drilling there.

The Sierra Club is leading the charge and is sweetening its message with political sugar, saying Obama could thereby help Democrats win House and Senate seats in midterm elections year.

This week it will launch a campaign called “Our Wild America,” which will call for new national monument designations.

“We think there’s real opportunities for them to do additional monument designations by the midterm elections and that it’s a positive political thing for the administration and for senators and congressmen,” Dan Chu, who is leading this program, told The Hill in a recent interview.

Chu pointed to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who is up for reelection in 2014.

Udall, a first-term senator, has sponsored legislation to provide permanent protection from oil and drilling for the 22,000-acre Browns Canyon, which runs along the Arkansas River. GOP congressmen from his state have proven resistant to other public lands protection measures, making it unlikely to become law.

The Sierra Club argues Obama should make the Canyon a national monument, and that this could help Udall in his reelection bid.
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