Mark Ruffalo 'disgusted' by Trump shrinking monuments

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The Citadel ruins at Bears Ears National Monument. (U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management file)

ATLANTA (AP) — "Avengers" star Mark Ruffalo said he is disgusted with President Donald Trump's plan to shrink two sprawling Utah national monuments by nearly two-thirds.

Ruffalo told The Associated Press in a recent interview that Trump's decision was a "slap in the face" to Native Americans. Last week, the president signed two proclamations to reduce the Bears Ears National Monument by nearly 85 percent and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half.

Trump's declarations would replace the federally-protected lands with five smaller monuments, cutting them by 2 million acres. Several lawsuits have been filed against the president, challenging his cuts. There are fears drilling or mining might be authorized without the protections.

President Barack Obama created the Bears Ears monument last year. The Grand Staircase-Escalante was instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Ruffalo said Trump's decision is environmentally wrong and an attempt to cater to a group of wealthy people.

"Honestly, it's disgusting," Ruffalo said before he was honored at the Captain Planet Foundation annual gala on Friday in Atlanta. The Oscar-nominated actor received an award for his dedication to renewable energy transformation at the event to raise funds for its programs and to recognize environmental stewardship.

"They are giving away our land that we own collectively to a small elite group of people, so they can do nothing but make money," he continued.

Ruffalo is starring both as Bruce Banner and the Hulk in the upcoming "Avengers: Infinity War" movie, which is expected to release in May 2018. He is also known for his lead role in the Academy Award-winning film "Spotlight."

Aside from acting, Ruffalo is an advocate for addressing climate change and increasing renewable and clean energy as a board member of the Solutions Project organization. He's also a co-founder of the Water Defense, which aims to raise awareness about energy extraction impact on water and the public health.

"This guy (Trump) ran on a populous platform where he was going to be more fair; he was going to push away the elites," Ruffalo said. "But all we've seen is him catering to a small group of people that are already very, very, very wealthy. Already very powerful. Yes, it's disgusting. Not only that, its sacred native land. ... Until we start to address these inequalities, we're in trouble."