(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert is defending his decision to sign a bill demanding the federal government transfer its public lands in Utah to the state by the end of 2014, despite a warning from legislative attorneys that it could be declared unconstitutional. Speaking at his monthly news conference on KUED, Herbert said the legislation has been mischaracterized.
“We’re not going to destroy our national monuments, we’re not going to take away the national parks, we’re not going to start drilling at Arches or Canyonlands,” he said. “In fact, we will manage those areas appropriately and protect the wilderness areas and the pristine areas that need the protection.”
The governor said Utah is doing a much better job of managing its resources than Washington, D.C.
He added that federal ownership of the state’s public lands has made Utah more subservient.
“And if you look to us as an example of what has happened compared to other states, from the east coast westward, you could go to North Dakota for example, almost the same exact language, almost the same exact time that they became a state, and yet in their particular instance the federal government disposed of the property, and now they have 8 or 9 percent public land and the rest private land,” said Herbert.
Herbert also noted that under the bill, 95 percent of all proceeds from selling the land to the private sector would go to the federal government, claiming there wouldn’t be much desire to sell it.