Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources & the Environment, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah / by Robert B. Keiter and John Ruple
[AP] Utah’s push to wrest control of 31 million acres of federally controlled land would lead to less public access, less public involvement in land-use decisions and more drilling and strip mining, according to a new report by legal scholars.
The report… also concludes the move could lead to a better chance of imperiled plants and wildlife winning protection under the Endangered Species Act…
[Abstract] This white paper is a follow-up to our 2014 legal critique of Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act (TPLA), which demands title to 31.2 million acres of federal public lands in Utah. In our earlier work we concluded that Utah previously disclaimed all legal rights to title to additional lands, and that “[t]he federal government has absolute control over federal public lands, including the constitutional authority to retain lands in federal ownership.” Despite its weak legal case, Utah remains dedicated to a public land takeover, and other Western states are poised to follow. This white paper therefore addresses how a public lands takeover would impact land management and access. While we focus on the TPLA, the lessons learned have broader applicability, first because the TPLA serves as the model for other state’s Transfer efforts, and second because the TPLA will likely be the first such effort to face a legal challenge.