Author: Reed Hopper
Utah officials are not very happy with the Secretary of Interior's latest land grab. Nor should they be. As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, Secretary Salazar is recanting on a hard fought settlement agreement and unilaterally making new law.
Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans Thursday to allow land managers to designate swaths of public land as “wild lands” … essentially setting aside a 2003 agreement negotiated by then-Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt ….
Salazar issued an order allowing Bureau of Land Management officials to place public lands with wilderness characteristics in a new category that offers more protection. About 6 million acres in Utah could be affected.
The move earned a quick rebuke by conservative lawmakers, with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, calling it a “brazen” move to “kowtow to radical environmental groups.”
Gov. Gary Herbert was so angered by Salazar’s announcement, he phoned BLM Administrator Bob Abbey to rail against what the governor calls “political posturing.”
“This decision may unintentionally damage all of the goodwill that we have worked so hard to build between the state, local governments, the environmental community and federal officials,” Herbert said….
Hatch said the order was an insult to the people of Utah and…[added:]
“When the Grand Staircase-Escalante [National] Monument was created in secret, I called it the ‘mother of all land grabs,’?” Hatch said. “This move by Secretary Salazar dwarfs that.”
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the incoming chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said Salazar was trying to use a backdoor approach to circumvent Congress’ power.
“The administration clearly knows that the law only allows Congress to designate wilderness areas, though somehow they hope giving it a different label of ‘wild lands’ will pass legal muster,” Hastings said. “This new policy will have significant ramifications on our economy, jobs, recreational opportunities and American energy production.”
This edict prompted an unflattering editorial from the Washington Examiner asking the provocative but necessary question–Who is doing more to hobble the U.S. economy, EPA or Interior?
There has to be a better way!