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West's GOP Leaders Plot Strategy

Judy Fahys

The West’s Republican are having a strategy session in Utah, calling on the federal government to cut regulation and surrender lands in their states.

Montana State Sen. Jennifer Fielder came to Utah to swap ideas at the Western Republican Leadership Conference. Fielder says Western states need to take control of federal lands because states do a better job managing wildlife, forests and range.

“What we’re dealing with is failed federal policies,” she says. “They’re failing our communities. They’re failing our environment. They’re failing our people. They’re failing our lands.”

Fielder supports the latest efforts to force the federal government to surrender more than 600 million acres to the states.

So does Utah Congressman Rob Bishop. He says that Congress can help stop regulatory overreach. Bishop calls the Endangered Species Act is an example of an environmental regulation that needs to change.

“Far too often Congress has written wonderful ideas into legislation and then turned it over to the agencies to start coming up with the rules and regulations,” he says. “We’ve got to stop that. Congress has got to put specific language in there because we’ve seen how this administration and these agencies have run – have just gone too far with what was never intended.”

Bishop says western lawmakers can get the support of their Eastern counterparts by saying federal mismanagement costs taxpayers billions of dollars and shortchanges schoolchildren.

GOP leaders from 12 western states heard about strategies like these.

Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans says more than 1000 people signed up for a rally Friday.

“We culminate with our huge rally at South Towne [Exposition Center]. We have Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, other elected officials, and we’re focused on how being united as a Republican party we are much stronger.”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is also expected to be at the rally. And on Saturday, the state’s Republicans will gather at South Towne for their statewide party convention.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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