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Category: Today At Utah Policy

Rep. Mike NoelLongtime Utah legislator and rural advocate Rep. Mike Noel tells UtahPolicy he believes he has a “good chance” of being named BLM director by President Donald Trump.

But even if Trump and newly-installed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke do pick Noel, the Kanab representative doesn’t think that slot will come quickly enough to take him out of the 45-day general session, which started Monday.

Noel, in a UtahPolicy interview, noted that former BLM director (and Utah state government division director) Kathleen Clarke wasn’t appointed until September of her selection year.

“I have had good conservations” with various folks in the Trump administration and with U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee – who have been pushing Noel’s nomination, said Noel, R-Kanab.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told UtahPolicy Monday that there is no new word about his name being up for director of the federal transit authority, an agency within the federal Transportation Department.

Trump has chosen Elaine Chao as transportation secretary. The wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao served in President George W. Bush’s cabinet.

Hughes said he was scheduled to meet with Chao briefly during Trump’s inauguration last week, but Chao was pressed into other obligations, and that meeting was never made.

Hughes, also, doesn’t see himself leaving the Utah Legislature during this 45-day session. And he says even the head of the FTA may not draw him back to D.C., as his young family doesn’t want to uproot itself at this time.

In any case, various Utahns have already been passed over for Trump slots, including U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, who was not named as Air Force secretary.

Noel said if he is picked BLM director, one of his first desires would be to do away with the current law enforcement personnel in the Bureau of Land Management. He hopes cops within the U.S. Forest Service would also be eliminated.

Those duties should be turned over to local rural county sheriffs, said Noel, with liaison officials in both federal agencies working on specific issues and locales.

Local officials, local citizens, should be making more decisions about the management of federal/public lands, said Noel, who retired out of the BLM with more than 20 years experience.