(EnviroNews Utah) – Tim Wagner, Public Lands Specialist for the Sierra Club, took the podium at the HEAL Utah-sponsored “Clean Energy Now Rally” at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah last week. The topic of his speech was what he referred to as an attempt at a “REAL land grab” by Utah’s Governor Gary R. Herbert and his big industry cronies.
Considering the gloom and frigid temperatures a sizable and diverse crowd turned out for the rally which was in protest of the Herbert Energy Summit, which has gained the widespread nickname of the Governors “Dirty Energy Summit”. Various speakers took the podium and spoke passionately to an emotionally charged crowd that at times shouted out even referring to the Governor as “the Devil”. The issues ranged from Utah’s deadly “RED AIR” pollution, to public land grabs, coal fired power plants, and Utah being the first designated destination for a tar sands project in the United States. The speakers included Utah physicians, environmental activists, and even the tribal Chairman of the Moapa band of Paiute Native Americans.
Wagner, a familiar face in front of the podium at Utah environmental events put Governor Gary Herbert on blast as he revealed his plans to turn Utah’s pristine and unique Federal wilderness lands into what he referred to as a “free-for-all industrial zone” for the exploits of big polluters, miners, and oil drillers. He expressed that the direction of this move can only be one the results in the incredible recreational public lands that Utahans and tourists have enjoyed for decades being roped off from public access to foster industrial pillage for polluters who he said are the very same ones contributing vast amounts of money to the Governors re-election campaign.
Governor Herbert is no stranger to “dirty” campaign money controversies as he was accused of taking a $10,000 dollar payoff-style campaign contribution from Alton Coal Development within hours of taking office, which resulted in what many referred to as a corrupt fast-tracking of the mine’s approval which had been held up over various concerns for nearly 2 years leading up to that point.
Wagner, in referring to Herbert’s efforts as a “real land grab” raised an interesting point when he revealed the fact that the Federal Government allocates nearly 600 million dollars a year to maintain many of Utah’s infamous wilderness lands, while at the same time the Governor and his cronies are engaging in an effort that the Sierra Club public lands specialist described as seeking to “turn them (the wilderness lands) over to a state that can’t even find enough money to manage it’s own state parks”.