It’s been a month and a half since President Biden’s Rose Garden ceremony where he fully restored Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments and righted one of the most grievous wrongs from the last administration. Surrounded by Native American Tribal leaders, the first Native American Secretary of the Interior, congressional and conservation stalwarts, and members of his executive team, Biden declared that protecting these monuments and their cultural sites and objects “may be the easiest thing I’ve ever done so far as President.” We couldn’t agree more!
But Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes felt differently. Where we see strong leadership and the vision to protect Bears Ears – a landscape Native American Tribes have called home since time immemorial – Cox and Reyes complain of an affront to rural Utahns. And where we see desperately needed action to conserve Grand Staircase-Escalante and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis, Cox and Reyes wring their hands that this will mean less coal, oil, and gas is mined and burned at the expense of future generations.
And now Cox and Reyes are willing to put someone else’s money (Utah taxpayers’) where their mouths are.
A few weeks ago, the state of Utah announced that it was soliciting bids from law firms and lawyers to pursue a lawsuit against President Biden’s restoration of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. And while the announcement doesn’t exactly come out and say this, it’s clear the contract would last for years and may easily exceed $10 million dollars in fees and expenses. And why not? When it’s someone else’s money, the sky’s the limit, right?
Not so fast . . . Please help us convince Governor Cox and Attorney General Reyes this is a terrible idea that will only backfire. If you live in Utah, send them a message now via our online alert system. And if you live in or near Salt Lake City, join us for a protest at 6pm this Thursday (12/2) at the Utah State Capitol.
Rather than waste millions of taxpayer dollars on this fool’s errand (a very similar lawsuit challenging President Clinton’s establishment of Grand Staircase-Escalante was defeated by SUWA and others in 2004), Utah politicians should embrace the protection of these remarkable landscapes and recognize what huge assets they are to the state of Utah and our nation as a whole. Rather than pay private lawyers to travel first class and wine and dine at the taxpayers’ expense, those dollars should go to support stewardship, visitor education, and helping local communities benefit from the monuments.
The choice is clear: Governor Cox and Attorney General Reyes should beat their swords into ploughshares and stand with the majority of Utahns and Americans who support protecting Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments.