Congressman Proposes Massive Giveaway of Taxpayer-Owned Energy Resources to the State of Utah

A controversial legislative proposal released July 14, 2016 by Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) would transfer all federally-owned energy and mineral resources in southern Utah to state control, paving the way for massive new uranium, coal, and oil extraction across the area’s national forests, redrock canyons, and other public lands.

The bill, known as the Public Lands Initiative, seeks to achieve this unprecedented transfer of federal energy and minerals by simultaneously designating new wilderness areas in southern Utah, which has been a longstanding goal of conservation advocates in Utah.
Conservationists in the state, however, immediately rejected the bill as a nonstarter.

Bishop’s bill “opens protected areas to energy development and furthers the State of Utah’s efforts to seize public land.” said Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “It is a terrible, terrible bill for Utah wilderness.”

In addition to granting the State of Utah unilateral control over federal energy and minerals across southern Utah, Bishop’s bill would open Recapture Canyon – an area rich in Native American sacred sites – to motorized vehicles, fulfilling an objective of anti-government activists who staged an armed takeover of the area in 2014.

Congressman Bishop, who is the head of an influential anti-parks caucus in the U.S. Congress has clearly stated that he does not support a Bears Ears national monument. He is also a vocal opponent of the Antiquities Act; anyone who supports the law, he said recently, should “die.”

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