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Text of debate between Sen. Orrin Hatch, Dan Liljenquist on KSL's Doug Wright Show

Published: Saturday, June 16 2012 10:49 a.m. MDT

Doug Wright: Right, on that note — this is kind of a continuation on here, there's been a lot of high rhetoric from our Utah State Legislature, and at the highest levels of government here in the state of Utah, regarding Utah's relationship and what our rights ought to be with and for and around federal lands. With all of the concerns for Hill, or for space, with all of the new opportunities, with the new NSA facility at Camp Williams, with the national parks that made Utah a prime tourist attraction in the entire world, some of this rhetoric seems to play with the folks. But is it productive in our relationship with the federal government, especially when there are so many important relationships that have to be maintained, honed and crafted for the benefit of people here in the state of Utah? And this time I think, if I'm keeping track, we go to former Senator Liljenquist.

Dan Liljenquist: Well, look, Doug, Utah is at a distinct disadvantage from our neighboring states in that when we quick-claimed our land over the federal government they were supposed to sell it in the course of years. This land, that has so many natural resources on it. And what's been amazing over the years, particularly with this administration, is that the BLM has moved to a preservation mode, almost entirely, with our own state lands. That makes it very difficult for us to get ahold of our natural resources, to fund our schools and other things. Look, Utah is really in a tough spot, and I support the legislature's actions to sue, to get access to our lands, because it's our school kids that pay for it. Well, it's also happened over at Congress, over the years. The reason why there's so much influence federally inside the states is we've had a generation of politicians who've shifted power to Washington, who've created agencies, who pass large bills and give broad rule-making authority to the executive branch, and that's what BLM and the other people in the EPA are doing. They are writing new rules because Congress has outsourced its job to the executive branch. We've got to pull back regulatory authority to Congress, and that's gonna take new people who didn't get us into this mess to begin with.

Doug Wright: Senator Hatch.

Orrin Hatch: Well, I'm happy to agree with you on much of that, except for the new people, because let me tell you, if we're gonna make headway on lands, it's gonna take experience and ability to get it done. All I can say is that we've been mistreated. I just had as a witness Harold Ham, who was the one who drilled 17 dry wells and finally hit oil in the Buckham claim in North Dakota. The president's bragged about, he's got the most energy-producing administration in history. There's only one reason that we have more oil, and that's that Harold Ham was willing to take the risk and all those dry holes and find the Buckham claim that is a huge, huge find. And the reason he could do it was because these weren't state lands, they were private lands. We just found one down in Texas that was on private lands. Utah — North Dakota got its lands back from the federal government. We've been mistreated all these years. And frankly, if we had our lands back, and could develop our lands, we'd be a very wealthy state. Our school system would be very wealthy. It's still a great school system, but it would be even better if we had that kind of control. In the early days of the Reagan administration, I was one of those that led the fight for the Sagebrush Rebellion. We're gonna do it now. We have a Western Sage coalition set up now of senators. I'm the chairman of the Lands Subcommittee. And I'm gonna do everything in my power to get Utah's lands back, and also to make sure Utah is not dumped on.

Doug Wright: And your time.

Dan Liljenquist: Senator, you mentioned experience. You have twice the experience of anybody we've had in 40 years. Twice the experience of the man you ran against and said had served too long. Twice the experience of Jake Garn and Bob Bennett. How much more experience do you need? We've been suffering under this stuff for decades. And yes, you led the Sagebrush Rebellion, your first term. What's happened since? How much more experience do you need? I look at this and say the results are the same. We have the same issues and they've gotten worse, not better.

Orrin Hatch: Well, the way I look at it, experience is very important. It's more important than seniority as far as I'm concerned. And what it comes down to is somebody that people respect, and follow, and will listen to, and get things done, and I have that reputation back there, on both sides of the floor. Now, I think you had it here, on both sides of the floor in Utah, and maybe you could get it there, but you can start from scratch.

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