Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Editorial - PLI revisions are welcome but time is running out

The best news to come out of a revised Public Lands Initiative announced this week by Utah Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz is that it omits language that would have made seven counties in eastern Utah exempt from any monument designations under the Antiquities Act.

Despite our dislike of the Antiquities Act, that exemption, a part of the original bill announced earlier this year, would have guaranteed the initiative’s defeat — if not in Congress, then certainly under a presidential veto.

Beyond that, the bill’s release, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s visit to the state this week, highlight just how quickly the clock is ticking on finding solutions to vexing land-management issues in the southeastern part of the state. The implication of Jewell’s comments at various meetings is that either the state’s representatives and the stakeholders involved find and pass a solution through Congress soon, or the president will summarily create a new national monument in the Bears Ears region.

The former clearly is preferable to the latter. Unfortunately, some stakeholders have more to gain from a monument designation than a brokered deal that would give them less than what they want.
That isn’t to say the Public Lands Initiative is a perfect solution. If anything is clear after many years of trying to broker a grand compromise, it is that the myriad land-use issues in that part of the state are complicated and intertwined.

But it’s also true that more is at stake here than just one bill. A successful compromise solution, passed by Congress and signed by the president, would stand as a powerful template for resolving the many other land-use issues in the West.

No comments: