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- 04-29-2012, 09:45 PM #1
Western Governors Discussing Public Lands and Immigration Enforcement
Western governors discussing public lands
The Associated Press
Friday, April 27, 2012 | 1:45 p.m.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says a gathering of Republican governors in Salt Lake City is an important first step in developing a unified voice on issues such as public lands and immigration.
Governors from Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada are participating in the Rocky Mountain Roundtable on Friday.
Herbert says during an afternoon news conference that a specific area of concern for all of the states is federal control of public lands and its impact on energy development. Other topics with a regional focus are water use and the management of endangered species.
Herbert signed a law last month authorizing the state to seize federal lands in 2014 unless the federal government relinquishes ownership.
A similar bill passed the Arizona Legislature. It next goes to the Gov. Jan Brewer for a signature or veto.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter both say there are legal and economic questions that would have to be addressed before they would sign such a law in their states.
The governors of four Western states were meeting Friday in Salt Lake City to find common ground on issues ranging from federal land control and energy development to immigration.
The governors attending are all Republicans: Butch Otter of Idaho, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Matt Mead of Wyoming along with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
"The Western states need to bind together and unite their voices," Herbert said. "We have a uniqueness that other people don't understand."
The all-day gathering, which Herbert dubbed the Rocky Mountain Roundtable, will focus heavily on the management of public lands by the federal government. All of the states represented have large swaths under federal control, whether it's national forest, national parks or acreage owned by Bureau of Land Management.
"We have a bi-partisan frustration with our public lands," Herbert said.
A Utah law signed by Herbert this year requires the federal government to relinquish its ownership of land in the state by 2014, despite warnings from legislative attorneys that the law was probably unconstitutional.
A similar bill passed the Arizona Legislature and next goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for a signature or veto.
Those legal options are important, Herbert said. But success of the Western states hinges on winning the political fight in Washington, D.C.
Other issues will be discussed as governors see fit, Herbert said. Those could include development restrictions imposed by the Endangered Speciesrights and immigration enforcement.
Western governors discussing public lands - Friday, April 27, 2012 | 1:45 p.m. - Las Vegas Sun