Archive for category Rob Bishop

Can Rep. Bishop Run Out the Clock on Bears Ears National Monument?

Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell toured the proposed Bears Ears National Monument last July

Yesterday Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz held a subcommittee hearing on their Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill. There is virtually no chance of the bill becoming law, however Rep. Bishop is hopeful that by keeping the PLI in play for the few remaining weeks Congress will be in session he can block President Obama from issuing a Bears Ears National Monument proclamation.

Bishop says there’s plenty of time left.

“There is a helluva long lame-duck session,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to be here from after the election to Christmas.”

He said he doesn’t know if movement on the PLI will stop the president from acting on a monument but that the White House would be hard-pressed to explain why it made such a move against a locally driven process.

Bishop said: “It’s going to be very difficult to make this monument unless it’s simply, ‘Screw you, Utah, in your face.’ “

Bishop is ignoring the fact that the Bears Ears monument proposal has the support of a strong majority of Utahns.

More info:
Congress can still avoid a Bears Ears National Monument, says Rep. Jason Chaffetz
Beautiful Film Of The Proposed Bears Ears National Monument (July 2016)
Is President Obama Going to Do This? (June 2016)
Bishop-Chaffetz Bill Is An Attack On Our Public Lands (January 2016)
Bears Ears National Monument (November 2015)


Is President Obama Going to Do This?

Bears Ears
Bears Ears buttes, Elk Ridge, San Juan County Utah

The Bears Ears National Monument proposal has been on the table since last year. There is some speculation that President Obama is readying a proclamation, despite a dire warning from Senator Orrin Hatch that it could result in an armed confrontation similar to the one at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

The monument proposal stands on its own considerable merits. Adequate protection of the area, particularly the archaeological sites of Cedar Mesa, is long overdue. A recent poll found 71 percent of Utahns support the Bears Ears monument. Additionally, Utah politicians could stand to benefit from a well-timed reminder that we the people own our public lands, not the corporations.

Rep. Chris Stewart recently tacked an amendment onto the Interior Appropriations Bill, seeking to prohibit new national monuments in Utah.

Meanwhile, the Utah Test and Training Range Act land grab has been quietly incorporated in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

The Utah land grab agenda also includes Rep. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz’ Public Lands Initiative (PLI), nicknamed the “Plundered Lands Initiative” by conservation groups. The representatives are still threatening to introduce this corporate-friendly development bill in Congress.

Gov. Gary Herbert is still proceeding with a threatened lawsuit aimed at seizing 30 million acres of our Utah public lands, a doomed gesture that may cost us $14 million.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Despite the controversial 1996 proclamation by the Clinton administration, the GSENM is thriving today. Let’s hope President Obama is willing to counter the anti-public-lands Utah politicians with a resoundingly popular monument proclamation this summer.

More info:
U-Turn Utah (Center for Western Priorities)
Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
Friends of Cedar Mesa
New York Times editorial: Monuments for Future Generations


How To Talk To An Empty Chair

empty chairs

I’m actually naive enough to think that our senators would show up to hear the concerns of the citizens who showed up to a hearing in Salt Lake on March 2nd, 2016, concerning the new “Public Lands Initiative”, (PLI). I don’t know why I thought that, when the hearing wouldn’t have even taken place without being organized by “Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment”.

Jason Chaffetz gets a gold star for sending a notice he wouldn’t be present. Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop and Mike Lee didn’t even have enough decency to reply to their invitation. Lack of respect from the senators, for the overwhelming majority of their constituents was a common theme throughout the night.

It was a good turnout, and it’s too bad it wasn’t held in a larger venue then Orson Spencer Hall. There wasn’t enough room for all the people who came to the event, even though some the attendees had to stand along the wall after the seats were gone. People at the back of the auditorium were complaining about all the noise being made by the folks in the foyer.

My camera batteries weren’t sufficient to record the entire meeting which lasted over three hours. Many dozens of people submitted a request to speak. I got some good footage though, which I present here for the people of Utah and hopefully others across the nation, since this terrible initiative could affect many other states, should it pass as written.

Enjoy the passion!

Salt Lake Tribune coverage.
Deseret Morning News coverage.


Bishop-Chaffetz Bill Is An Attack On Our Public Lands

Today we finally got a look at the Bishop-Chaffetz Public Lands Initiative discussion draft, covering public lands issues in 7 eastern Utah counties. It was not worth the wait.

From the Center for Western Priorities:

After years of work, Congressman Rob Bishop released a draft of his long-awaited Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill on Wednesday. Early reporting already shows Congressman Bishop trying to spin his bill as a balanced and collaborative success story, even before the public has an opportunity to review the legislation.

Don’t be fooled: The draft Public Lands Initiative bill is an extreme and deceptive attack on our nation’s public lands that does little for conservation. The legislation is another ideological vehicle for Congressman Bishop to express his disdain for national public lands, rather than a true attempt at addressing diverse stakeholder needs.

Rep. Bishop stated recently that “people will win and people will lose” in his bill. There’s no doubt that the winners Bishop picked are big oil and gas companies and Utah’s misguided public lands policy, while the losers include hikers, campers, sportsmen and women, Native American tribes, and the American people.

  • The worst part of the bill is that the 40 areas Congressman Bishop calls “Wilderness” would not be designated wilderness as it’s been understood since the passage of the Wilderness Act over 50 years ago. “It is a designation in name only, and that alone makes the bill a nonstarter,” says Aaron Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities.
  • Unspoiled public lands that are currently set aside as BLM wilderness study areas would be given up forever and released for industrial uses.
  • The bill also creates so-called “energy zones,” i.e. areas open to expedited oil, gas, and other mineral leasing and development.
  • The bill seeks to open up disputed RS 2477 right-of-way claims to motorized travel.
  • Bishop wants to prohibit any new national monument designations by presidential proclamation.
  • Congressman Bishop just waged a vicious and ultimately unsuccessful battle against America’s most successful parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Fresh off his defeat, Bishop is now trying to gut LWCF within Utah by banning land management agencies from using LWCF funds to protect land inside new wilderness and conservation areas.

More info:
Public Lands Initiative discussion draft
Bishop Public Lands Proposal Unveiled, Already Sparking Criticism
Bishop public lands bill unveiled amid support, criticism
Rob Bishop’s “Public Lands Initiative” is an Insidious Attack on Our Public Lands

New House Bill Gives Away Public Lands, Creates Pseudo-Wilderness Areas

[O]ver the past several months there have been many significant changes made to the bill, turning it from a gesture of compromise to a divisive bill that includes Bundy-style public land giveaways, pseudo-wilderness protections, accelerated oil and gas development, and the marginalization of several original stakeholder groups.


Bears Ears National Monument

Bears Ears NM proposal map

For Native Americans, it’s a sacred place of healing. Twin buttes on Elk Ridge that form a landmark called the Bears Ears (Orejas del Oso on old maps).

The Bears Ears national monument designation for 1.9 million acres would include the existing Natural Bridges National Monument, Dark Canyon Wilderness, part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Lands surrounding these areas and adjacent to Canyonlands National Park are long overdue for national recognition and protection.

Conservationists have been very patient. Wilderness proposals have been made and talked about for more than 30 years with no action taken by Congress. Now we have an opportunity to do something significant. President Obama ought to proclaim the Bears Ears National Monument before he leaves office at the end of next year.

Petition: Ask President Obama to Protect Bears Ears Now

More info:
Bears Ears Coalition
Tribal coalition in Washington, D.C., pushing for Bears Ears National Monument
Explore the Proposed Bears Ears National Monument!


Reps. Stewart and Bishop Promote Public Land Grab

It’s unconstitutional and enjoys essentially zero public support, but the Koch brothers want it– therefore our so-called representatives are calling for national legislation to seize and sell America’s public lands.

More info:
Reps. Stewart and Bishop Launch New Federal Land Action Group
GOP House Leaders Create ‘Action Group’ To Seize And Sell America’s Public Lands

Editorial: Public-lands deal fades as posturing rises

Bishop and Stewart are seeking leverage. In trying to negotiate with the environmental groups who want more wilderness and other protections under the Public Lands Initiative, they are playing the state-takeover card. Those environmental groups would be more inclined to take less if they thought state ownership was looming. It’s a wild card, in that it’s not clear such a land transfer bill would ever make it through Congress.


Live Streaming the Utah State Republican Convention

Will Hatch survive?

Utah Republicans eat their own!

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Senator Hatch and Rep. Bishop Want to Reverse the Outcome of The Civil War

Civil War 150

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — William Faulkner

I was one of the few who watched C-SPAN coverage of the ceremony at Fort Sumter to mark the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the Civil War. There is a shadow over the sesquicentennial, because the political climate in America still contains many echoes of the issues we used to think were settled for all time by the worst war in U.S. history.

Via TPM we learn that our own Senator Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop want to revisit the question of states’ rights with a constitutional amendment. Here’s how the plan would work, from an op-ed Bishop wrote in Daily Caller:

[I]f two-thirds of the states collectively find a federal law or regulation abhorrent or misguided, they should have the power to repeal said law or regulation. The law would then be sent back to Washington for further consideration, at which time Congress may choose not to act again on the matter, or they may vote to override the states’ repeal and pass it in finality.

“American society itself is so diverse, so organic, so varying in its geography, culture, and demographics that we see the same fatal conceit when government tries to manage it from one central location,” Bishop wrote. “That is, unfortunately, what we have done over the past 80 years.”

Look, if two-thirds of the states are unhappy with the Union they can call a constitutional convention. This proposed amendment is absurd. But it underscores the way some people insist on re-fighting the Civil War.

UPDATE: A TPM commenter points out a major flaw:

Total Population of 16 most populous states = 209,696,126
Total Population of 34 least populous states = 98,450,632
— Numbers from 2010 census.

I think it’s pretty self-evident from those numbers that there are numerous myriad paths to a two-thirds majority of states that would constitute a minority of the population.

UPDATE: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-GA) told reporters at a press conference Thursday announcing the introduction of the so-called “Repeal Amendment” that the proposal isn’t nullification.


BLM Wilderness Causes Yet Another Right-Wing Freakout

Comb Ridge
Comb Ridge in southeastern Utah, one of the areas re-inventoried by the BLM in 1999 and found to have wilderness characteristics.

Senator Orrin Hatch said it was “an insult to the people of Utah” and “proof – if any more was required – of this administration’s radical environmentalist agenda that threatens to devastate our Western way of life.”

Governor Gary Herbert called the timing of the announcement “suspect” and said it smacks of “political posturing.”

Rep. Rob Bishop opined, “This is little more than an early Christmas present to the far left extremists who oppose the multiple use of our nation’s public lands… [the Obama administration has] deliberately slapped western communities in the face.”

“This is an unprecedented usurpation of Congress’ power,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz. “The potential negative consequences of today’s actions will be far-reaching in the West, where we actually rely on the land for energy development, recreation, and food production (grazing and ranching). I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee and in the Congressional Western Caucus to demand an accounting.”

Whew. “Radical environmentalists.” “Political posturing.” “Far-left extremists.” “Far-reaching” consequences that “threaten to devastate our way of life.” What happened?

Basically nothing. After almost two years of insistent lobbying from conservationists, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued an order that effectively reversed an illegal decision by the Bush administration back in 2003. Secretarial Order 3310 (PDF) provides direction to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “regarding its obligation to maintain wilderness resource inventories on a regular and continuing basis…”

From the Q & A document:

Since the controversial out-of-court settlement between then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and the state of Utah and other parties (Norton-Leavitt Settlement) on wilderness in 2003, the BLM has been without comprehensive national guidance on how to inventory and manage lands with wilderness characteristics that are not congressionally designated as “Wilderness” (with a capital “W”) as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System or are not Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) that are pending before Congress for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

There is a bit of history behind this. In 1995, during a hearing on the doomed Utah Public Lands Management Act (a Republican-sponsored BLM wilderness bill), former Rep. Jim Hansen challenged then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to produce evidence that Utah had anywhere near five million acres of wilderness-eligible BLM land, as conservation groups claimed. At the time, there were only 3.2 million acres of BLM wilderness study areas resulting from a flawed and biased 15-year congressionally-mandated wilderness review that concluded in 1991, during the George H. W. Bush administration.

Secretary Babbitt then ordered a BLM wilderness re-inventory in Utah, focusing on the 3.1 million acres eliminated at an early stage of the original review process, the 1980 Intensive Inventory. He could do this because the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) (PDF), the same law that provided for the wilderness review, also gave the Secretary of the Interior the authority to set aside public lands for protection through the BLM planning process.

Of course, the right-wing Republicans immediately freaked out, and the State of Utah went to court. In 1996, a district court judge issued an injunction to to stop the re-inventory of wilderness. Two years later, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Department of the Interior, affirming the Secretary’s authority under FLMPA.

The re-inventory concluded in 1999, and identified an additional 2.6 million acres as having wilderness characteristics according to the Wilderness Act (PDF).

Here’s a little bit of math: 3.2 + 2.6 = 5.8. Yes, it turns out that what conservationists had been saying all along was right. Utah had more than five million acres of BLM land eligible for designation as wilderness. In addition to the 3.2 million acres of wilderness study areas, the BLM now had another 2.6 million acres of inventory units that Secretary Babbitt ordered to be protected.

In April 2003, Interior Secretary Gale Norton made an out-of-court settlement with Utah Governor Mike Leavitt that rescinded former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s order protecting potential wilderness areas inventoried in the 1999 BLM re-inventory in exchange for dropping the lawsuit that had been filed in 1996. Conservation groups termed this the “No More Wilderness” policy. More legal wrangling ensued. Not to mention an unprecedented frenzy of oil and gas leasing, some of it in places that had been off-limits under Babbitt.

With Secretary Salazar’s order, we’re back at square one, with the BLM once again adhering to the policy established by Congress in FLPMA 34 years ago. It’s… wait for it… A GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF PUBLIC LANDS!

UPDATE: Salt Lake Tribune editorial: More wilderness?: Salazar’s small step forward


Rep. Rob Bishop: A Vote For Me Is A Vote For Gridlock

h/t David Dayen
Rep. Rob BishopRep. Rob Bishop, speaking to the USU College Republicans about what will happen after the election: “The most you can expect is two years of good old-fashioned gridlock.”

Nate Silver’s model predicts the GOP will pick up more than 50 additional House seats on November 2.

A few months ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) offered another preview of the coming Republican-controlled House of Representatives: “I think all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another…”

Oh, and Republicans are pledging to de-fund the government. Impeachment proceedings against the President are pretty much a given.

In a recent interview, Senator Mitch McConnell candidly laid out the Republican vision: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” The 2012 Presidential campaign starts next week!

One thing you can say about Republicans. When they talk about shutting down the federal government and going for all-politics-all-the-time in Washington, they really mean it.

Rep. Bishop also revealed his plan for Social Security. “If you really want to be patriotic – once you’re retired, die.”

UPDATE: GOP says compromise not on the agenda if they retake the House


‘Take Back Utah’ Redux

Morgan Philpot
Congressional candidate Morgan Philpot speaking at “Take Back Utah” rally

Maybe “Sagebrush Rebellion II” is losing momentum. At 1:00 pm, I counted no more than 300 people at the second “Take Back Utah” rally today at the State Capitol. The Salt Lake Tribune said there were 5,200 participants in an earlier ATV parade up State Street, but nearly all of them were gone by the time the politicians showed up to speak.

The complaint seemed to be how terribly unfair it is that Utah is blessed with millions of acres of uninhabitable but breathtakingly beautiful public lands. Governor Gary Herbert was the keynote speaker, complaining that there aren’t enough places to ride ATVs in Utah. Rep. Rob Bishop alleged that the Obama administration is plotting to proclaim more national monuments. A video from Rep. Jason Chaffetz seconded that suspicion. Congressional candidate Morgan Philpot also spoke briefly.

Lobbyist Don Peay told us of his preference to get rid of wild wolves in the West, before they eat all the game animals that hunters want to shoot (that’s his theory, anyway).

There were more speakers, but they all offered variations on the same theme: the federal government should not protect land but give it away — to state governments, to ranchers, to the mining industry, to the petroleum industry, to the timber industry, and to irresponsible off-roaders. That’s taking Utah back, all right — to the 19th Century.

More info:
Salt Lake Tribune: Thousands of off-road enthusiasts ride to the Capitol
Deseret News: 5,000 rally to ‘Take Back’ Utah’s public lands
KSL-TV: Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts set out to ‘Take Back Utah’

Related One Utah posts:
Back in the Sagebrush Again (August 8, 2009)
The Sagebrush Rebels Are Back Again (July 28, 2009)


Obama Wants to Privatize WHAT?

Thanks to Steve Murray of West Bountiful for bringing this to my attention with his pointed letter to the sltrib.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that “Obama wants to outsource future space flights to private companies.” This hits me close to home, because I have a brother-in-law who works for a rocket engineering firm. I am, of course, concerned about his job security. Rob Bishop and Bob Bennett (Rob and Bob), on the other hand, have much larger concerns. Read the rest of this entry »



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