Wasatch Environmental Update for February 11, 2018
By John Worlock
“Watchout! Utah Legislature is in Session.”
The Utah Legislature is busily at work in its 2018 session, updating the rules that govern many aspects of our lives, looking down finely into the operation of your county, your city, town or township. This is strange behavior, as they are very sensitive to, and even critical of, federal rules and legislation that affect the operation of the state, and its subdivisions.
We don’t have time to review all of the legislature’s current machinations, so if you are of an environmental or conservational frame of mind, take a few hours to study the Sierra Club’s rundown of 30 bills. Or take a few minutes to get just a flavor of the goings-on. Go to their web-page: utah dot sierra club dot org slash priority hyphen bills.
Now we’ll take some time to excoriate the Kane County legislator, Mike Noel, for his introduction of HB 136, “Federal Designations.”
HB 136 is designed, more or less obviously, to delay and even derail any activity designed to lead to any actions called Federal Designations. The list of designations is exhaustive: from national monuments to wilderness areas to national recreation areas. Let’s note that none of these designations change ownership of the land, which begins and ends as federal. The bill defines very broadly what and who are governmental entities and then requires them, if they intend to advocate a federal designation, to bring their proposal first to the Natural Resources Committee, so they say, for feedback. You and I are not governmental entities, but your mayors and council members are, and probably the professor of environmental science at the state university. Such entities can dream but before intending, they must consult the legislature. I wonder just when do my dreams morph into intentions. Dangerous territory!
In the committee meeting, Mike Noel spoke warmly of the need for Transparency, unaware of the legislature’s opacity, especially in the final days of the session. He claimed, wrongly, that the Mountain Accord process operated “under the Radar.” Those of us who followed that process from its inception were regularly invited to comment on the lengthy negotiations that led to its final form. Mike Noel and members of the Natural Resources Committee had a similar opportunity to follow and comment on that process.