Wasatch Environmental Update for May 27, 2018
By John Worlock
“Enemies are All Around Us!”
We woke up recently to the realization that we are surrounded by enemies. All the members of the Utah congressional delegation have become our enemies. We understand that they have formed a more or less formal pact dedicated to cooperating with the federal administration in dismantling many of the environmental protections that we have celebrated over the past decades.
Here is a surprising example. Senator Mike Lee has reintroduced a bill that would allow local managers of wilderness areas to allow bicycle traffic in their domains. We don’t suspect the senator of being a cyclist himself, so we conclude that this is an attempt to dilute the purity of the Wilderness Act and simultaneously move some decision-making out of the District of Columbia.
Here is another. Senator Orrin Hatch has signed on, with Representative John Curtis, as co-sponsor of the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. Surely the groundswell of support for creation of this bill comes from certain elements in Emery County and elsewhere who wish to dilute federal control of their enterprises. It’s clearly a compromise bill, promising some environmental candies, such as a stretch of Wild and Scenic River and many acres of Wilderness, while relegating much of the wilderness-quality land to much weaker, and local, regulation. Apparently, neither legislator had much to do with the negotiations leading to this bill’s formation, as they took place over two decades. Many environmental voices were left out of this process, and we hope they are heard clearly in upcoming congressional hearings and debates.
But for a real poison pill, take a look at Representative Rob Bishop’s National Monument Creation and Protection Act. Protection, indeed! It promises to tear the 1906 Antiquities Act into shreds, leaving it a more or less useless piece of legislation. This overkill is the result of Bishop’s antipathy to federal control of land and his anger at the creation of many hundreds of acres of National Monuments in Southern Utah.
Others in the delegation have offered bills that would formalize the bits that survived the President’s recent proclamation of reductions in Utah’s National Monuments.
Yes, we are surrounded by enemies. Please let us hear the hoofbeats of the environmental cavalry coming to our rescue!