Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab, didn't have high praise Wednesday for environmental groups he said are blocking development of mineral, oil and gas development in Utah.

Noel told the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee, which he co-chairs, that separate lawsuits are aimed at preventing the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management from allowing for test drilling for uranium in Arizona and for oil and gas development with what's known as the "Enduring Resources' Rock House" project.

Noel sought support of fellow committee members in signing their names to two letters of support for federal agencies' decisions to allow development to continue each matter.

The first letter is addressed to Kaibab National Forest supervisor Mike Williams, telling him in a draft of the letter that at least the chairs of Noel's committee support the Tusayan Ranger District's decision to approve a proposal by VANE Minerals to go looking for uranium in the Arizona Strip. The letter states that the decision "properly balances environmental concerns with multiple use principles."

The second letter addressed to Utah BLM director Selma Sierra praises the bureau's respect of the "principles of multiple use embodied in federal law." Groups like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Sierra Club were singled out by Noel as groups that, in effect, are blocking a revenue stream for the state, which gets royalties from successful development of oil, gas and mineral claims.

So far, both letters only carry the names of Noel and committee co-chair Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City. The only two lawmakers in opposition to putting their names on the letters included Reps. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Central Salt Lake, and Lynn Hemingway, D-Holladay.

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