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Take Back Utah in the News (Read 931 times)
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Take Back Utah in the News
06/25/09 at 07:15:52
Western caucus plans to take on 'anti-oil' administration, introduces new energy bill
By Amy Joi O'Donoghue

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 5:01 p.m. MDT
Even as some Utah conservatives and outdoor enthusiasts are ramping up their plans for a Take Back Utah Rally next month, a chorus of sympathy is resounding in Congress with Wednesday's launch of the Western Senate Caucus.

Members of the Utah Public Lands Multiple Use Coalition met Tuesday night in Sandy to tackle details about marketing, fundraising, parking and the program for an event planned Aug. 8 in downtown Salt Lake City they hope will attract 10,000 supporters.

Their efforts might get a boost from Utah's senators and other Western senators, who held a press conference Wednesday in which the newly formed caucus was touted as a way to uphold "fundamental principles of the West," according to a release.

"We call ourselves the Senate Western Caucus because we represent good western values and we need to underscore the common beliefs Utahns share with our neighbors," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said. "However, we are fighting for all Americans who pump gas in their car, turn on the lights at home, or want to feed their children healthy, affordable meals. That's really what our agenda comes down to."

Hatch is one of 11 members of the caucus, which also includes Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Republican senators from Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Nebraska and Kansas.

One of the primary goals of the caucus is to thwart the "anti-oil" agenda of the Washington elite and the current administration, as well as "extreme" environmentalists, according to the release.

With that, Hatch took aim at Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to rescind the sale and lease of 77 parcels of government land that had been "bought and paid for" at a December Bureau of Land Management auction in Salt Lake City.

Hatch said the lease sales were the result of many years of environmental studies done by Salazar's own people and that his actions effectively ripped land management decisions from his own professionals.

"As one of the senators who initiated the first sagebrush rebellion in the 70s, I recall that debate being largely about land use questions," Hatch said. "The impact of that battle was felt mostly by Westerners. But the anti-oil agenda being pursued by the current administration and Congressional leadership will impact every American in higher gas prices, higher energy prices and higher food prices."

Against that assertion the caucus chose the announcement of their formation to unveil legislation they say comprehensively embraces an energy plan that strives to fix the country's "dangerous overdependence" on foreign oil.

Among other things, the Clean, Affordable and Reliable Energy (CARE) Act:

Establishes a renewable and alternative energy trust fund paid for with revenues for new oil and gas exploration

Extends tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles and for new plug-in vehicles

Eliminates barriers to the expansion of nuclear power production by promoting the recycling of spent nuclear fuel and providing incentives for nuclear capacity development

Enables the country to explore gas and oil resources on the outer continental shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Restricts the "misuse" of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act for regulating greenhouse gasses

The formation of the caucus echoes sentiments expressed earlier by a group of Utahns who decided to reactivate a public lands coalition in protest of recent federal decisions they say hampers access and use of government lands. Members include the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, off-roading groups and some lawmakers.

E-MAIL: amyjoi@desnews.com

2009 Deseret News Publishing Company | All rights reserved
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