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Federal Judge's Ruling Favors Utah, U.S. Land Agreement in SUWA Suit

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff applauds the recent decision by a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging a 2003 agreement between Utah and the United States Department of Interior regarding public lands.

Chief U.S. District Judge Dee Benson has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and ruled that the organization did not have standing to bring the legal challenge.

"This ruling is a victory for the rule of law and the rights of Utahns. It also makes it clear that President Clinton went too far when he started meddling with our public lands," commented Shurtleff.

The agreement negotiated between Utah and the interior department resolved the state's legal challenge to the Clinton administration's creation of additional wilderness areas without permission from the U.S. Congress, explained the attorney general.

In settling the lawsuit, both sides agreed that the U.S. Congress never empowered the president to create such areas after 1993. In addition, the U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to abandon the Clinton-era program.

Judge Benson ruled that the settlement between Utah and the U.S. Interior Department correctly interprets the law and SUWA has no right to intervene.

"No matter how much SUWA disagrees with the present administration's policy decisions and its legal interpretation of FLPMA (Federal Land Policy Management Act), it has failed to point to an existing legally cognisable right or interest that is being sufficiently affected to constitute a justifiable case or controversy ... SUWA's attempts to demonstrate standing serve only to underscore the lack of it," stated the court's decision.

Carbon County residents with Internet access may review the federal judge's entire decision by visiting the attorney general's website.

The web address is

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