Two-thirds of Utah is owned by the federal government. But opinions about whether the federal government’s management of these public lands is an asset or a burden sharply differ across the state. In a move that’s been dubbed the new Sagebrush Rebellion, the Utah Legislature passed a law this year demanding nearly all those lands be transferred to state control by the end of 2014. Supporters say Utah has that right under the state’s Enabling Act, opponents say it’s unconstitutional and could devastate Utah’s national treasures.
- Writer & naturalist Stephen Trimble (read his Salt Lake Tribune op-ed here)
- Republican Representative Roger Barrus of Centerville (read his Salt Lake Tribune op-ed here)
You might not spend too much time thinking about noise pollution, even if it’s all around you. Now, Salt Lake County is looking to tweak its noise pollution controls, and wants you to weigh in. We’ll talk about what these changes would mean for the community.
- Dale Keller, Area Supervisor for Environmental Health with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department
- Victor Alaves, Salt Lake Valley Health Department Industrial Hygienist
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I have wondered how this whole issue relates the eminent domain provisions for public utilities, mining and drilling industries in Utah. Some companies appear to be granted the ability to exercise eminent domain in order to annex private land. The intent of such law is to give, for example, the electric company a way to run power to say a school when the only way they can do it is by sinking a pole in an adjacent landowner’s property.
As I understand it, oil and mining companies are given this ability as well under the same law. All these companies are expected to exercise the right with the public good in mind. However, in some cases, the use of the ability to annex private land has been controversial. Google “Heart of Nine Mile Canyon” to read of one example in central Utah.
So then, when and if Utah assumes control/ownership of all this federal land they’d like to take, what is the legal standing of these companies with respect to that land? Presumably, their Utah granted eminenet domain rights have always been trumped by federal law when it comes to federal lands. They couldn’t just annex federal land. But what about when it’s state land? Can they exercise their state granted eminent domain rights over state land?
If so, that’s one genie I don’t want let out of the bottle. Utahns may very well be more capable of managing these public lands than the federal government, but not, in my opinion, if this eminement domain aspect lets private industries legally skirt around management.