Outdoor Industry Pushes Back Against Western Republicans' Oil Friendly Land Policy

Mention Ken Salazar to Republican lawmakers in the west and the response is sure to include the words "land," "grab," "tyranny," and even "Bill Ayers!" if you listen long enough.  In the tea party haze, the only thing less popular than caring for poor people and the elderly is protecting wildlands and the environment.  It's an affront to the American dream, enshrined in the Constitution, to live next to a coal mine or an oil field, drinking brackish "freedom water" and breathing polluted "liberty air."

When it comes to land management policy, few Republicans in the west have contributed more to this attitude than Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-1).  Most recently, Bishop has led the charge -- with the help of a few juvenile state representatives -- in a call for "reclaiming" western lands "for freedom" (of course) and ensuring Utah's right (ney, duty!) to drill/burn/dig/chop-baby-drill.  Also: They're doing it for the children!

But as Republicans from Montana to Colorado strive for the most creative ways to cater only to industries with the deepest pockets, businesses in the west are waking up and pushing back.

One coalition spokesman, business owner Mark Rasmussen, has taken to the op-ed pages:

Last week, 27 Utah-based outdoor-industry businesses joined my company, Petzl America, in calling on our congressional delegation to adopt a balanced, rational approach to protecting Utah's unique and scenic landscapes. We want our Senators and Representatives to understand preserving these lands is critical to our bottom lines, and the jobs our companies create.

We wrote a thoughtful letter to Utah's delegation asking them to reconsider several dangerous policies currently being considered by Congress. We have not heard a reply from any of the delegation, other than the statements of my Representative, Rob Bishop, in the Standard Examiner. Based on these comments, we can only conclude he is not interested in opening a dialogue with an important business group that provides jobs to many of his constituents. His continued assertion that protecting public lands hurts the economy just doesn't hold water.


This is not to say there isn't a place for oil and gas development and ATV trails. According to the Utah State Parks OHV program, there are over 50,000 miles of OHV trails across public lands in the state. That's a lifetime of beautiful riding for tourists and Utah residents alike. Likewise, there are already five million acres in Utah being leased by oil and gas companies, yet only one million have been developed for production. Thousands of leases issued to oil companies for drilling sit idle.

If it's a balanced approach to public lands we're looking for, the scale needs to swing toward protecting the valuable, pristine landscapes we have left.

Rep. Bishop has supported everything from defunding the Dept. of Interior to H.R. 1581, which would strip 5 million plus acres of protected status in Utah alone (for the children, remember!) in his crusade.  In Idaho, where one study estimated the outdoor industry outpaces the timber industry favorites 6 to 1 in job creation, Gov. Butch Otter fretted alongside Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg that occasionally having to tell the timber industry no would amount to "a war on the west!"

Run for the hills, school children!  Or the strip mine where the treeless hills used to be!  And be careful, that's also where we buried some radioactive stuff

Witness "stewardship" in a red state, folks.  It's no joke.

GOP reps in safe districts are hoping the collision of business interests and sane environmental and land management policy will simply go away.  But as more business owners lacking the political clout of the oil, gas, timber, and mining industries find themselves ignored, the "pro-business" veneer is getting increasingly difficult for Republicans in the west to keep polished.


UT-01: Rob Bishop's Deep Pockets

Bowen on ActBlue.

Democratic candidate Morgan Bowen has been after Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) for several months regarding his campaign contributions and corporate ties to companies like engineering firm Es3, and the nuclear waste importing Energy Solutions.  And it has fallen on deaf ears.

Morgan's campaign has garnered a lot of local activist attention via an aggressive YouTube and blog based messaging machine, but has been ignored, for the most part, by the majority of Utah's media (who are busy explaining to voters why they must re-elect Republicans because "their stuff is already in the office" and "that straight ticket ballot just makes it so easy!").  But now, it seems Bowen was onto something, and the media is beginning to notice.  Via the Salt Lake Tribune:

Salt Lake Tribune:  Rep. Rob Bishop has secured millions of dollars in congressional earmarks that benefit a small engineering firm, whose executives continue to contribute heavily to the Utah Republican's re-election efforts.

   The latest campaign-finance reports, released this week, show the leaders of Engineering and Software Systems Solutions, known as ES3, donated $22,000 to Bishop in August. That money accounted for more than half the funding Bishop raised between July 1 and Sept. 30.

   This year Congress approved a budget bill that included an $800,000 earmark for a program the contracts with ES3, a California firm with an office in Clearfield. The money funds what the military calls Science Engineering Lab and Data Integration (SELDI), which is run through Hill Air Force Base. SELDI pays ES3 to track spare jet parts to avoid duplication.

   The earmark and the contributions are nothing new. ES3 holds a fundraiser for Bishop each August, normally after the Utah Republican has inserted an earmark in legislation but before its final passage.

This bad news comes for Bishop hot on the heals of his back-and-forth comments on the bailout (It was even harder for him to vote against it after they put the pork in!), and a now stalled battle between Utah and Energy Solutions, another Bishop campaign contributor - to the tune of $28,000 - petitioning the state and federal representatives for approval to import radioactive waste from Italy into Utah and Nevada.

Morgan is not your perfect Democrat.  He is what is referred to, in the West, as a "Utah Democrat" (think of a more libertarian Jon Tester).  But he has shown judgment far exceeding Utah's current representation (including Blue Dog Jim Matheson, who Bowen butted heads with speaking out against the FISA re-write and immunity for Telco's), and promises to steer Utah away from oil-shale and toward wind energy.  Please throw him a bone. This is a low dollar race, so even $10 could make the difference.  Visit Morgan's YouTube Page for an idea of where he's heading, and his latest ad here.

Utah has a long way to go to be even purple (despite what delusional state party leaders might tell the candidates), but with a little help, Bowen will lead us in the right direction.  

Bowen on ActBlue.

There's more...

Utah Democratic Candidate Takes a Stand Against Telco Immunity

(Crossposted at DailyKos) (Morgan Bowen on ActBlue)

Something you may be used to hearing about a Democratic candidate in other states, but here in Utah, this is truly a first.  We have but one Democrat in our federal delegation, and on FISA, Matheson has proven himself a true Bush Dog.  Now it appears a new candidate is ready to step up and show true leadership on a key issue.

Morgan is the Democratic candidate for Utah's first congressional district, a seat currently held by school voucher supporting, "drill here, drill now" parroting, warrantless wiretap backing Rob Bishop.  In addition to the 2/1 odds Morgan faces unseating the corporate funded incumbent, he also faces a battle with in-state leadership as a result of Rep. Jim Matheson, our only sitting Democrat, and faithful Blue Dog.

There's more...


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