Congressman Rob Bishop has repeatedly blamed the federal government for not listening to him or others about land protections and National Monuments. But it turns out that Bishop is the one not willing to communicate – and his stubbornness could force President Barack Obama into creating a National Monument to protect Bears Ears.
On more than one occasion, Congressman Bishop has railed on the Obama Administration for being a go-it-alone leader, who “only really listens to the White House staff” and creates National Monuments “without consulting local governments.”
The facts tell a different story. Throughout the debate over his Public Lands Initiative, Congressman Bishop has showed an unwillingness to work with others. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has made it clear that if Bishop can put together a compromise bill to protect the Bears Ears, Obama would forgo a National Monument. Unfortunately, Bishop has chosen to play political games instead.
Numerous news reports and firsthand accounts from Obama administration and other officials indicate that Congressman Bishop isn’t shooting straight when he says there haven’t been opportunities for input on Bears Ears or his Public Lands Initiative:
– Salt Lake Tribune: “The Obama people wanted fair, negotiated talks to cover a broad range of public land issues in Utah. They were anxious for Utah’s input. The White House door was wide open. Unfortunately, Utah elected folks chose smugness over serious talks. They chose political maneuvering over generational problem solving. Our Utah elected officials failed us miserably on public lands.” – Utah State Sen. Jim Dabakis
– Desert News: “I have met with Congressman Bishop on this a couple of times. We’ve asked for detail because we have no detail. Once we see the bill, we’ll be able to provide input on how we can help get it across the finish line or what concerns we might have. But we actually haven’t seen anything tangible.” – Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
– Salt Lake Tribune: While the Obama administration may still consider naming a national monument in the Bears Ears region of southeastern Utah, it is urging the state’s congressional delegation to move swiftly on a long-awaited measure intended to strike a broad compromise on public lands preservation and development.
“White House officials met with the Utah delegation recently to get an update on the Public Lands Initiative, which sponsors say they will formally introduce “very soon” to try to head off any unilateral action by President Barack Obama during his final months in office. While not giving any timelines, the White House stressed the importance of a congressional solution that can win support of an array of stakeholders, including American Indian tribes.”
“[They] encouraged the delegation to continue working to improve their proposal and urged them to listen to community members and tribes regarding this important issue,” a White House official told The Salt Lake Tribune on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the discussion.
– Outside Online: “Time is running short for Bishop, however. The Obama administration has given him room to cobble together a deal with conservationists, ranchers, Native Americans, energy companies, and others—the kind of huge, grassroots pact that most parties would prefer. But if an agreement isn’t reached soon, the president appears poised to step in and do some preservation of his own, in the form of a major new national monument in eastern Utah called the Bears Ears. The clock is ticking.”
It’s clear that the Obama Administration wanted to work with Congressman Bishop, but Bishop was simply not willing. If President Obama creates a Bears Ears National Monument, as has been requested by locals and Tribes, Bishop has only himself to blame.