Utah senators oppose Boxer federal land grab amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee issued statements Thursday in opposition to Sen. Barbara Boxers’s, Sense of Congress amendment regarding federal protected land.

Hatch said:

While I respect Senator Boxer’s position, I must wholeheartedly disagre. Under no circumstances should we encourage the federal government to seize any more land from the states or from the American people. In fact, we should be transferring federal lands to the states wherever possible. Utah both enjoys and relies on a robust outdoor sports and recreation industry that thrives on access to our beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, canyons, red rocks, and desert landscapes. Lastly, research has consistently shown that local citizens and governments prove better stewards over their lands than the federal government.

Lee said:

In a state like Utah, where the federal government owns upwards of two-thirds of all the land, the ability of our state economy to grow and to raise the revenue necessary to fund public priorities like roads and education is severely diminished. We don’t need to be encouraging the federal government to make it even harder on our state and local communities. In fact, quite the opposite. We need to give states more control over the land within their borders and leave more of the management, maintenance, and conservation up to local officials.

The Congressional Research Service released a study in December indicating that the federal government manages roughly 28 percent of the land in the United States and a majority of the land in Utah.

In 1996, President Clinton designated 1.7 million acres of land in Garfield and Kane counties as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This designation has created significant economic hardships to the local community, from blocking energy development on the monument to significant reductions in permitted grazing.

More background on the wrongheadedness of this amendment, according to the release issued by Hatch’s office, includes:

1. The federal government is not well-equipped to oversee any additional land

The same study also showed that the federal government has done a poor job managing the land, with a combined maintenance backlog total as much as $26.5 billion dollars.

The National Park Service’s maintenance backlog has increased from $4.25 billion in fiscal year 1999 to as much as $13.42 billion in fiscal year 2013. More than half of the backlogged maintenance was for roads, bridges, and trails.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s maintenance backlog was as much as $2.39 billion in fiscal year 2013.

The Bureau of Land Management’s maintenance backlog was as much as $820 million in fiscal year 2013.

The Forest Service’s maintenance backlog was as much as $6.03 billion in fiscal year 2012.

Senator Boxer’s amendment broadly asserts that public land designations provide a benefit to local and regional communities and economies, and designations of federally protected land should continue where appropriate and with consultation by local communities, bipartisan elected leaders, and interested stakeholders.

2. Congress designates public lands, not the president

The first clause of the Boxer amendment finds that “Presidents of both parties have designated public lands….” But the president does not have the power to designate public land. Rather, the Property Clause in the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2) grants Congress sole authority over federal property, including its acquisition and disposal. Congress has designated a portion of this authority to the Department of the Interior.

The president does have authority to designate national monuments. President Obama has exerted this authority to designate large portions of public space as national monuments, designating a large swath of the Pacific as off-limits to fishing and energy exploration, and the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California as a national monument, over the objections of local residents.

Submitted by the offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch

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  • Pheo January 23, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Why not put this in the opinion section? “News” implies at least the appearance of unbiased reporting. This is propaganda, even if it is true.

  • mo ferguson January 23, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    This is Boxer’s last term. Soon she will be irrelevant. She will return to her Sate of California to further wreak havoc on that state. The sad part is that the taxpayers will now pay her a nice retirement amount for the rest of her life. Truly sad.

    • Free Parking January 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Hey MO. your already irrelevant here go back to Ferguson and wreak havoc for all we care

      • mesaman January 23, 2015 at 6:17 pm

        You seem to have a difficult time analyzing the content of Mo’s comment. “Go back to Ferguson and. . . .for all we care”; how did you connect this to his comments? Maybe I went too far with the analyzing bit, maybe it comes down to reading comprehension.

        • One For The Rosd January 24, 2015 at 12:01 am

          Maybe it was just a personal message between them two and has nothing to do with with you

        • Free Parkimg January 24, 2015 at 3:12 am

          You seem to have a difficult time just holding a though but its clear your to stupid to figure out that comment has nothing to do with you idiot

  • Bender January 23, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Press release masquerading as news.

    • One For The Rosd January 24, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Bender that’s exactly how I see it

  • laytonian January 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    According to the photoshopped sign, it’s ALREADY public lands!

    Keep it that way! What’s wrong with you people?
    As a taxpayer, I don’t want it sold off to developers and then I’m stuck with the bill to clean it up after it’s ruined.

  • beacon January 23, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Let’s see…our state’s population is supposed to double in 35 years, we have water issues, education issues and transportation costs but Lee, Hatch, etc., want more public lands to develop more energy (takes water) and sell (get us more growth and people to use water). Sounds like a good plan! Even if they sell the land to get money (around 90% of which will have to go to the Feds) and produce energy they will only create more problems not solve them.

  • Will January 23, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    How about a little background on Sen. Barbara Boxers’s, Sense of Congress amendment?

  • SevereBias January 24, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Another lame press release that belongs in the Opinion section at best. Utah can’t afford to take on the expense of maintaining the land that’s currently controlled by the federal government. Hatch and Lee just want to be able to sell it to their corporate masters so that the land can be drilled, polluted and ruined before Big Oil moves on to the next environmental disaster.

  • Adolf Castro January 24, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Land grabbers are like sensor news wrong and evil

  • ladybugavenger January 25, 2015 at 12:08 am

    It was native american land until the land grab.

  • KDXER January 25, 2015 at 6:36 am

    This is the same politician that made her mark by eliminating logging in California. Trees tagged, harvested, replanted and forest slash cleared. CDF( California Department of Forestry), NOT ANY MORE, its called Cal Fire. Every year hundreds of thousands of beautiful forest burn, why, to create government jobs. Thousands of Cal Fire employees. Private citizens need to work, pay taxes, stay in your home. Government has work to do!

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