Lee Responds to Interior Secretary’s Comments on Utah Lands

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Senator Mike Lee responded to comments made yesterday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding recent Utah state land transfer legislation.  The bill sets a deadline for the federal government to transfer all lands not designated as “wilderness” or as a national park to state control by 2014.  In a statement during a campaign-style press conference in Washington D.C., Salazar suggested Utah state legislators were not serious about the land transfer, calling it “political rhetoric you see in an election year.”

“The White House remains in full campaign mode spending taxpayer funds to rally their political base with events such as yesterday’s press conference with Secretary Salazar,” said Lee, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “But let me assure the Secretary and the President that Utahns and their representatives could not be more serious about protecting our land rights and preventing federal land grabs.

“More than two-thirds of all the land within Utah’s borders is owned by the federal government, which makes it very difficult to grow our state economy, pay for education, and create new opportunities for Utahns.  The President and his advisers like to talk about “fairness,” yet how fair is it that the state of Utah must ask for federal permission to use the vast majority of their own land?

“Thankfully, states like Arizona are joining Utah in standing up for their rights and I certainly expect more to support our effort soon.

“Frankly, given the President’s terrible record on energy security, exploration and development, gas prices, and property rights, it is not surprising he would want to distract attention from his failed and economy-crippling policies and inject politics into these important issues. But we will not let him hide from his decisions that hurting families and communities.”

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