Governor Testifies on Public Lands, Meets with Departments of Interior, Energy

WASHINGTON D.C. -Governor Gary R. Herbert stressed the importance of collaboration and the crucial need for the federal government to include states in policy decisions at a series of events in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.

The Governor first met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman in their Washington D.C. offices. Tuesday afternoon, he testified before the Congressional Western Caucus at the invitation of Utah Congressman Rob Bishop.

At each event, the Governor emphasized the “new found spirit of collaboration and cooperation” theHerbert/Bell administration has built both inside and outside the State ofUtah.

Specifically, Governor Herbert highlighted two recent successes to come out of the Governor’s Council onBalanced Resources – a recent agreement between industry and environmentalists that will allow natural gas exploration in Carbon County and a new method to find resolution on S2477 road claims in Iron County.

Neither would have been possible without a willingness of all stakeholders – state and federal officials, industry representatives, environmental groups and others – to work together for the common good, the Governor said.

During a visit to Utah in April, Secretary Salazar called the Governor’s Balanced Resource Council a model to the nation. On Tuesday, the Governor again thanked the Secretary for his remarks and reiterated his continued interest in working with the Interior Department on a number of matters, particularly a review of federal regulations for the issuance of oil and gas drilling permits on federal land. Secretary Salazar indicated his willingness to work with Governor Herbert and the state on the Resource Management Plan process.

The Governor also thanked Deputy Energy Secretary Poneman for the Department’s cooperation with his administration on the issue of the storage of depleted uranium in Utah.Governor Herbert personally negotiated an agreement under which the Department of Energy halted planned DU shipments to Utah while state regulators study the safety of storing the material and study possible long-term storage plans.

“We in Utah value our good, honest and successful working relationship we have forged with theDepartment of Energy,” Governor Herbert said.

In addressing the members of the Western Caucus, the Governor said the meetings are an illustration of his dedication to “building a strong personal and governmental relationship” with federal officials.

Those relationships are particularly important in Utah due to the unique challenge for economic development in a state that is overwhelmingly made up of public land.

“I am honored to govern a state that is blessed by an abundance of natural resources, while also being blessed with an amazing beauty and natural wonder that we must preserve for future generations,” Governor Herbert testified. “Make no mistake: These are not mutually exclusive blessings. Energy development and environmental protection can exist in harmony.”

“To do so, however requires that we work together in a spirit of collaboration and from a starting point of mutual respect. As I have said many times before, it is high time that we lay down our arms, set aside the rhetoric and embrace our common goals instead of focusing on our differences,” the Governor said. “A willingness to find common ground is key.”