Utah to Feds: "You're not the boss of us!"
In an almost straight party vote (only 3 Democrats voted "yes") Utah’s Republican leaders recently approved legislation authorizing the use of eminent domain to take parcels of federal land away from the U.S. government, with the goal of triggering a U.S. Supreme Court battle. This strategy has little chance of success due to the “Supremacy Clause” of the U. S. Constitution, which says federal authority trumps state authority in such matters. But, in spite of the long odds, on March 27th Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed the legislation authorizing a Utah “takeover” of federal lands, including the Kaiparowits Plateau in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and parcels of wild land (some adjacent to national parks) slated for oil and gas leasing but pulled last year by Interior Secretary Salazar.
Utah’s governor also signed legislation allocating $3 million from Utah’s
school trust fund to bankroll this losing battle -- even though Utah cut $10
million in funding for education and has the lowest per pupil spending and
largest class sizes of any state. But, of far greater concern to those of us
who love the public lands of the American West is how this ill-conceived effort
disregards the value of these iconic and pristine landscapes to Utahns and all
The SUWA staff