Air, Sage Grouse and Land Issues Remain Following 2014 Legislative Session

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State representative Jerry Anderson spoke to etv10news.com about issues concerning air quality, sage grouse and federal lands on March 19. Anderson recently returned from Salt Lake City and the 2014 Legislative session.

Overall, he felt this year’s session went rather smoothly, but continues to raise concern that too much emphasis was spent dealing with air quality issues on the Wasatch front and not enough concern on what air regulations are doing to the coal industry.

“There is a war on coal,” he stated. “I am just trying to get the definition of air set so the levels of CO2 are included.”

Anderson went on to explain that he feels there is a benefit to CO2 in the atmosphere, claiming that plants thrive when there is more around and that the local area is CO2 starved. This hurts the coal industry because it is forced to contend with overly strict regulatory guidelines for carbon emissions in order to stay in operation.

The 2014 Legislature did approve funding to continue to keep sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species. Anderson voted for the funding. He explained that one of the sticking points to finding a resolution with environmental groups that want to list the birds on the list is the stipulation of a four-mile radius of no new development around each bird lek.

Anderson said that there is concern by the large radius around each area and what that will do to future oil, gas, ranching and recreation activities in the state. He feels it will cost the state over $40 billion if the sage grouse is listed as a protected species.

Anderson spoke about the ongoing effort to transfer Utah’s federal lands over to the state. He stated that Utah has proven it can protect the lands it already owns. He explained that North Dakota already acquired its federal lands and now many of our area miners are leaving to take jobs in that state.

He also said that PILT (Payment-in-Lieu Taxes), which counties receive for any federal land in its borders is only pennies on the dollar compared to property taxes.

 

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