The GOP-controlled Utah Legislature will send an official resolution to the state’s Congressional delegation, who, in turn, will ask President Donald Trump to rescind the Bears Ears Monument designation by former President Barack Obama.
The wording of the resolution is being put together now, said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, with the help of Utah’s conservative think-tank, the Sutherland Institute.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, told the House Republican caucus on Tuesday that there is a good chance that Trump may take some action – and if not rescind the Obama Bears Ears completely, at least reduce 1.2 million-acre size significantly.
Noel said 14 different times previous presidents have changed the boundaries of national monuments created via the Antiquities Act – which Obama used to name the monument just before Christmas.
Noel, who believes he’s in the running to be Trump’s director of the Bureau of Lands Management, actually wants the new president to go even further, and rescind the Bill Clinton-created Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996.
But at the very least, said Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, chair of the Legislature’s public lands commission, Trump could cut down Bears Ears, even repeal it completely.
Trump has already taken executive actions blunting or repealing various executive orders signed by Obama, including the former president’s halting of a controversial private oil pipeline project in South Dakota.
With Republican Trump in the White House, and Republicans in control of the U.S. House and Senate, over the next two years great strides can be made in Utah gaining influence, if not outright control, of federal lands in the state, said Noel.
Noel and Stratton said perhaps Trump and Congress could change the Antiquities Act so that in the future no president can create a national monument without that state Legislature’s approval.
That, said Ivory, was the original intent of the drafters of the U.S. Constitution – who actually discussed the ways that the new federal government could obtain land inside of a state.
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, will co-sponsor the resolution, which ensures its passage.
Noel said U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee have asked for the Legislature to pass such a resolution, which they believe will help them convince Trump to sign a Bears Ears rescission. No doubt that order will be tested up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on one president killing a national monument set up by a previous president.
In any case, it is clear that Utah will continue going after the millions of acres of BLM and U.S. Forest Service land in Utah.
That is following the will of Utah voters, as measured by UPD pollster Dan Jones & Associates.
Jones found in a recent survey that 55 percent of Utahns want the state to keep trying to get control of most federal lands in the state; 75 percent of Utah Republicans support that effort.