This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Q1: How do you as a candidate propose to aid in solving some of the major economic problems we face as State? For example:
Utah is $2.6 billion below average in per-pupil funding for education (source); and Nearly 40% of Utah’s total state revenue – the single largest line item of Utah’s revenue – comes from a federal government that is fiscally dysfunctional (source and source); As a lifelong Utahn, I am deeply concerned about the many economic challenges facing the state. However, I believe the Attorney General should focus primarily on enforcing the law, not on political issues. In the vast majority of cases, matters of a political nature are better addressed by the capable members of the legislature or the Governor.
Q2: Were you aware that there are trillions of dollars of economic resources in Utah locked up in federally controlled lands that could be the solution to our economic challenges? For
example: There is more than $150 trillion in mineral values (source); and More recoverable oil in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming than the rest of the world combined (source) locked up in the federally controlled lands. I am aware of Utah’s incredible energy resources and the important role the responsible development of those resources can play in helping Utah prosper.
Q3: Were you aware that the federal government promised, as part of our agreement of statehood (our Enabling Act), to transfer title to the public lands in Utah but never did?
Utah’s Enabling Act anticipated the disposal of public lands in Utah and directed that 5% of the anticipated land sales should be directed to support the schools of Utah. With nearly 70% of the land in Utah still under federal control, clearly that expectation has not yet been met.
Q4: Were you aware that the statehood promises to transfer title to the public lands are the same for all newly created states both east and west of Colorado?
(Links: UT v. ND Enabling Act, Examples of other Eastern S tates’ En abli ng A cts ) Yes. The American Lands Council has done an excellent job demonstrating how similar Utah’s Enabling Act language is to that of other states. Additional education on this front is important and will provide a valuable contribution to the public discourse on this topic. Q5: Despite the fact that statehood promises to transfer title to the public lands are the same, the federal government still controls nearly 70% of the lands in Utah, and more than 50% of the lands in the western states, but less than 5% of the lands on average in states east of Colorado. (Links: Federalist Society Legal Analysis, Executive of Legal Analysis).
Do you think this is legally justified? Please explain why or why not?
I concur with Donald Kochan’s analysis in the report commissioned by the Federalist Society that there are “serious” and “credible legal arguments supporting Utah’s demand that the federal government extinguish certain public lands within the State.” I also agree with his analysis that many of the legal arguments related to the Transfer of Lands Act have “never received definitive resolution in the courts.” I believe those questions and legal arguments need to be developed further and addressed by the courts in an expeditious fashion.
Also, please explain what is the difference in the federal government’s disposal of the public lands for states east and west of Colorado?
There are a number of historical, cultural, and geographic-based explanations as to why the federal government’s disposal policy differed in eastern states from that of western states. However, the long-standing obligations and expectations of western states should not be ignored and the legal arguments exploring those promises need to be advanced. Q6: States like IL, IN, MO, AR, LA, AL, MS, and FL were as much as 90% federally controlled land for decades. Their statehood enabling act promises to transfer title to the public lands are in most cases the same as Utah’s, yet they succeeded in compelling Congress to transfer title to their lands and today have less than 5% public lands! (Links: : U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton (D-Mo), Missouri Resolution, Congressional Public Lands Committee Report).
Is there a reason why the federal government should not have to honor the same statehood promise to transfer title to our public lands that it already kept with Hawaii and all states east of Colorado? No.
What does Utah need to do to make the federal government transfer title to our public lands like it already did with states like HI, IL, MO, LA, AL, AR, etc.? Please be specific.
Continue to educate the public and elected officials about the promises that were made to each of the western states in their enabling acts and explore creative mechanisms that will enable the state to more clearly demonstrate that it is a wise and responsible steward and manager of public lands. Q7: Five States have already passed legislation following Utah’s lead on the Transfer of Public Lands Act (HB148 2012) – Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming (summary). Earlier in 2013, South Carolina passed a Resolution supporting the transfer of public lands to western states. This matter is now being raised in meetings of national organizations like Heritage Foundation, State Policy Network, Council of State Governments, State Budget Solutions, National Farm Bureau, National Association of Counties, etc., and in various national publications (Some examples here, here, and here).
Please explain why you have (i) the courage it will take defy the status quo and (ii) the ability to educate and build the coalitions it will take to persuade Congress that transferring the public lands is in the national interest, and
Winning this battle will require leadership, strategic thinking, coalition building, endurance, and patience. These are traits I developed and demonstrated repeatedly in my 40 year military career. I pledge to bring the same approach and skills honed over the course of my career and personal life to this effort.
Please explain what other states, groups, or individuals you would be able to rally to support the transfer of public lands effort?
The effort to will never be successful if Utah tackles it alone. I have a lifetime of experience in building coalitions, fixing problems, and in addressing and overcoming challenges. Re- establishing strong, steady, and principled leadership in the AG’s office will be the first step in addressing this issue.
Q8: How specifically can I (we) help you secure the transfer of our public lands to our state? Explain.
The best thing ALC can continue to do is to educate the public, state legislators, the press, and Members of Congress about the promises that were made to each of the western states in their enabling acts.
Q9: If elected to this office, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, what priority will you give to compelling Congress to honor the same statehood promise to transfer title to our public lands to Utah?
Enforcing the law, defending state sovereignty, and promoting justice are my top priorities. Also, given the circumstances of the current vacancy, restoring the integrity of the Office of Attorney General is extremely important. As to the specific question, defending Utah’s rights is an issue of very high importance—one to which I will dedicate significant time and attention. That being said, I do not believe it is the chief role of Utah’s Attorney General to lobby Congress or the State Legislature, but rather to focus his/her time and efforts pursuing the state’s legal claims through the court system. As Attorney General, I will work with staff
experts in the AG’s office such as Assistant Utah Attorneys General Harry Souvall and Tony Rampton, to push and advocate for the state’s statehood promises.
For more information please contact the American Lands Council at 801.ALC.6622, info@AmericanLandsCouncil.org or visit the website: www.AmericanLandsCouncil.org.
The American Lands Council is a 501(c)(4) pending, non-profit organization. Members of the American Lands Council include 17 Utah counties, and dozens of other counties, state representatives, organizations, businesses, and individuals throughout Utah, other western states, and the nation. The mission of the American Lands Council is to secure and defend local control of land access, land use, and land ownership.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?