Public Lands, PILT Funding on Congressman Bishop's Agenda for Legislature

Feb 21, 2014

  Utah’s 1st District Congressman is hoping he can claim a key committee chairmanship that would give Utah a significant advantage in Congress.  That was one of the messages Republican Rob Bishop brought to the Utah legislature today. 

Bishop is hoping to become chair of the House Natural Resources Committee now that Washington Republican Doc Hastings says he’s not running for re-election.  He told the Utah Senate today that would give Utah more clout on issues like the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT.  It was funded this year as part of the farm bill, but Bishop says he’d like to see it a place for it in the regular federal budget.

“I want it to be identified," Bishop said. "I want to fight over it every year.  I want people in the East to realize how much it costs them to control the West.”

Utah has been getting about 35-million dollars a year from the PILT program.  Most of that goes to rural counties with large areas of federal land.

Democratic State Senator Jim Dabakis asked Bishop what could be done to prevent President Obama from declaring new national monuments in Utah before he leaves office.  Bishop responded by saying he’s hoping to change the federal Antiquities Act to require presidents to do an environmental impact statement on monument proposals – something required for most other federal projects by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

“This is important to me," Bishop told the state senators.  "If there’s a NEPA process, it guarantees that mistakes will not be made as there were in Grand Staircase-Escalante.  It guarantees that there will be public input.  It guarantees that there will be a process.”

Bishop is a former speaker of the Utah House, and he says the legislature should be proud of the way it works compared to how poorly Congress has been functioning in recent years.