Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is lashing out at extremist liberal Democrats from the East who are trying to tell Utahns what to do about the Bureau of Land Management wilderness issue.
Hatch attacked five prominent Democrats who have written to the interior secretary asking for 2 million acres to be added to the BLM wilderness study, which ties in with a wilderness bill introduced by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.Hatch was interviewed for the KUED Channel 7 program "Inside Washington," which will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. tonight. He was questioned by Pat Thorne, the station's Washington correspondent, about Owens' bill, which would designate 5.1 million acres as wilderness in Utah.
The senator replied explosively that everybody believes the final bill will be between 1.5 million and 1.9 million acres and added that BLM total wilderness study area is only 3.2 million acres.
"I have to conclude that the reason Wayne Owens is for 5.1 . . . is that he doesn't want a wilderness bill," Hatch charged.
If no bill is passed, the BLM bureaucracy will treat all of the study areas as de facto wilderness, preventing Utahns from using millions of acres for economic development, recreation, hunting, fishing, ranching and farming, Hatch said.
"You can see I'm pretty aggravated about it, too. I think it's about time that people in Utah started to understand that we're dealing with some extremists back here.
"And when we have five Democrats, all liberals, a number of them from back East, come and start telling us what we have to do in Utah, by gosh, that's pretty offensive. And Jake (Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah) and I are doggone upset about it," Hatch said.
Thorne told him that some people think the BLM is being overly conservative by studying only 3.2 million acres. "Oh, come on," Hatch interjected. Hatch charged that millions of acres could be "shut down" and that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., would treat Utah as all wilderness.
"Then where do we get our oil and gas development, where do we get our mineral development . . . where do our ranchers get land for their cattle, where do woolgrowers get lands for their sheep, where do our farmers get their water from?"