Environmental Justice

AZ Gov Vetoes Land Grab

Republican Governor Jan Brewer is best known for defending of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant laws, so it took everyone by surprise when she vetoed an Arizona federal land-grab bill similar to the one Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed last March. In her veto letter Governor Brewer wrote, “The legislation does not identify an enforceable cause of action to force federal lands to be transferred to the state,” and pointed out that it is apparently unconstitutional as well. Brewer worried that such a bill would create a lack of certainty for individuals holding current leases on federal lands and estimated that the Arizona State Land Department would need “approximately $23 million in additional dollars and an untold increase in staff and resources” to manage millions of acres of federal land.


Brewer’s veto leaves Utah on its own trying to jump-start a new Sage­brush Rebellion to grab state control of federal public lands. A legislative analysis found that the Utah bill is also likely unconstitutional, but Utah Senator and self-proclaimed “constitutional scholar” Mike Lee thinks there’s a way around that (as the Constitutional Account­a­bility Center says, “With friends like Senator Mike Lee, the Constitution needs no enemies.”)


The last Sagebrush Rebellion fizzled in the 1980s after the general public realized they had a lot to lose and very little to gain by privatizing federal lands and shutting themselves out of recreational use. So why the new enthusiasm to pour Utah tax dollars into anti-federal lawsuits? It seems that State Representative Ken Ivory and State Senator Wayne Nieder­hauser who sponsored Utah’s Public Land Transfer Act didn’t think up the idea themselves.


They just adapted a model bill written by the American Legislative Ex­change Council (ALEC), a right-wing group supported by big corporations like Koch Industries and ExxonMobil that operates as a shadow government by feeding pre-written bills to state and local legislators.


Alecexposed.org lists 33 Utah legislators with close ties to ALEC. As it happens, ALEC is holding its annual meeting in Salt Lake City from July 23-28, 2012 and Occupy Salt Lake is forming an “ALEC Welcoming Committee” for all citizens who object to having their government taken over by large corporations (Bring a tent. Pitchforks optional.) 

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