Commissioners adopt another reminder to feds: 'Follow the laws already enacted'
The Carbon County Commission passed a resolution last Wednesday evening reminding the federal government that the Antiquities Act should not be used in the county without direct input from local entities, nor without the parameters of the National Environmental Protection Act.
The resolution was born out of the concern local officials have of the President using the executive powers he has under the Antiquities Act to "lock up" land that federal government manages from development and multiple use, possibly toward the end of the present administration's time in office.
"This is to recognize legislation as it presently exists," said Carbon County Commission Chair Jae Potter. "We are exercising the rights of the people of Carbon County."
Within the resolution the document reminds those that it is aimed at that under the Carbon County Master Plan there is an overlay zone that prioritizes and recognizes the use of land for such things as mineral extraction, process and transportation. This zone has been recognized by the Utah State Legislature.
Further the document asks that the federal government not withdraw any lands under the Antiquities Act unless it meets the requirements for that withdrawal that was imposed by Congress in the coastal areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). That area is similar in that it is rich in energy while being a protected area. This is because legislators at the time recognized the importance of not locking away those resources for good.
The county feels if the Antiquities Act is used anywhere, it should be used under the parameters of Alaska Natural Interest Lands Conservation Act. This act set up a special study area so that the natural resources potential could be studied in the areas under the act, possibly for extraction at some point. It is based on a "five thousand acre in aggregate" plan that keeps any administrative action unless the following are done:
A 90 day written notice of such action to the Carbon Commission, the governor of Utah, to the president of the Utah State Senate, the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives and each member of the Utah Congressional delegation;
That NEPA compliance must be done and achieved within one year of the written approvals;
That Congress must pass a joint resolution within one year after the issuance of the record of decision in the NEPA process;
That under the same parameters Congress itself cannot make any special designations without public written support from the local and state officials and that NEPA must be achieved in a similar way to above, in that event.
"The fact is that the federal government should hear the voices of the local people before any decisions are made," said Commissioner John Jones.
This resolution follows up one that was passed in August reminding the federal government that amongst other things, law enforcement must be informed when federal law officers are taking action within the county.
This resolution and others concerning federal power within states are being considered or have been passed by other counties in Utah and other places around the west where multiple use of land is considered an important part of those areas' economies.