Environews, Environews, Minis

Environews: Heads up on the big issues

By Amy Brunvand
  • Public Lands Initiative: Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) is almost certain to re-introduce his Public Lands Initiative (PLI), a bill loaded with poison pills that undermine wilderness protection and conservation. If it passed, President Trump would probably sign it.
  • RS2477 claims: The State of Utah will redouble efforts to claim dirt roads and tracks that cross public lands as “highways.” The State of Utah would gain the right to widen and pave claimed roads.
  • Public land transfer: Handing federal public lands over to state control is part of the official 2016 Republican platform so this very bad idea (you’ve read about it here before) is likely to gain momentum.
  • Wasteful water projects: Utah environmentalists have been holding at bay some huge, expensive, environmentally damaging projects like the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Development Project. Stopping these projects just got harder.
  • Bundy-style politics: Last winter a group of gun-waving angry white men associated with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy took over the Malheur National Wildlife Reserve in Oregon (incredibly, in October a jury found them not guilty). Meanwhile, violence is escalating against protestors opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Reasonable people are scared that this kind of violence will spread.
  • Drill, baby, drill: The oil industry has falsely blamed environmental regulations for impeding economic development. With President Trump, the industry is likely to push for drilling leases on wilderness-quality lands and other inappropriate places.
  • Privatized wildlife: Trump’s sons are hunting buddies with Don Peay, who advocates abandoning the model of wildlife as a public resource in order to give special preference to rich and private land owners. The Utah legislature has already handed over millions of dollars to organizations associated with Peay’s Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and evidence of Peay’s influence was seen in a recent unscientific decision by the Utah Division of Wildlife resources to increase mountain lion trophy hunting permits.


Amy Brunvand is an academic librarian who currently works in the University of Utah Sustainability Office, coordinating sustainability education, research and initiatives at the University.

This article was originally published on December 5, 2016.