Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hatch tells state lawmakers Trump looking at Bears Ears, Grand Staircase

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told state lawmakers Wednesday that even though President Donald Trump may irritate some people, "in a lot of ways, we're taking on things that we've never been able to take on before." Hatch highlighted Trump's willingness to take a look at the designation of two national monuments in southern Utah by past presidents, the newly designated Bears Ears and the 20-year-old Grand Staircase-Escalante. He said he spent an hour in the Oval Office with the new Republican president discussing the state's efforts to rescind or at least reduce the size of the monuments, noting that the designation of Grand Staircase shut off a coal reserve. "I'd like to see us have access to that," Hatch said in the Utah Senate. Mining the clean-burning coal will help the state "taxwise and so forth. It will also help the country when we need that energy." Later, Hatch told reporters he's "very confident" Trump will rescind the Bears Ears National Monument designation made by President Barack Obama in the final days of his administration. The president "may very well rescind that, and we’ll work at doing it the way it should be done," Hatch said during the daily state Senate media availability, "in a way that will be just, right and in accordance with feelings of Utah." Utah's senior senator also said he believes Trump has the authority to create a route to the coal reserves within Grand Staircase by modifying the national monument. "He would be able legally to create the access to this great treasure that may save Utah and the country someday," Hatch said. The coal would not be mined "at the present time," he said, but instead be "a resource already ready." Such an action by Trump "certainly would right a wrong that occurred without any consideration," Hatch said, a reference to Clinton's surprise announcement of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument...more

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