Accessing Public Lands – Utah’s Financial Future
Gaining access to our public land resources is one of my top priorities. Why do I think it’s so important? Let me explain.
Accessing Utah’s natural resources holds the key to our economic future. In the contract between the United States of America and the State of Utah when we became a state, the federal government agreed to sell off our public lands and pay 5% of the proceeds to the State of Utah’s education trust fund. However, by holding onto these lands, the federal government has not fulfilled the terms of this contract and has denied the citizens of Utah access to the majority of our own natural resources.
I have now spent most of five years studying and talking to numerous experts in this area. The following two examples illustrate the magnitude of the natural resources in Utah, and what it is costing us to allow the federal government to meddle in our affairs:
Since 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has pulled 77 oil leases, following several years of environmentalist pressure. It is estimated that this denial of access to our lands will cost Utah’s School Trust Fund $140 million, and cost another $720 million in General Fund dollars over a ten year period.
The Kaiparowits Plateau contains 62 billion tons of coal worth an estimated $1 trillion, of which $50 billion should be placed into Utah’s School Trust Fund – a windfall for our children’s education.
These are just two examples of the vast natural resources in Utah – resources with the potential to improve our economy and that should be controlled by the citizens of Utah.
We must pursue all legal means to remedy these violations. Success on this front could create thousands of jobs; ensure future energy prices will be among the lowest in the country, and provide billions of dollars to our Education Trust Fund – all while eliminating the need for state income tax. The potential financial impact to the State of Utah and our children’s education – possibly trillions of dollars – is truly astounding. This is the future of Utah. Thousands of jobs will be created. Education funding will be completely changed. Citizens will no longer have to pay state income tax.
Will it happen overnight? No. But it will not happen at all if we are not diligent. We must pursue this fight with all our energy, passion, and intelligence. We owe it to ourselves and our children – and their children – to utilize all legal means to protect our state from the overreaching hands of a morally and fiscally bankrupt federal government.
As your Governor I will continue the fight to access our public lands, eliminate state income tax and reduce our dependency on the federal government. I ask for your vote in 2012.
Rep. Ken Sumsion