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Governors riled by wildlands plan

McClatchy News Service, Herald and News 3/2/11
     W A S H I N G T O N — Republican governors from across the country made clear this week how much they think Obama administration initiatives interfere with their states’ rights.

   In the West, Republican governors are especially riled up about the possibility that more federal land could be designated as wilderness, and they fear it might slow energy development in their states, said Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.

   “I see it as a job-killer,” said Otter, who along with fellow Republican Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah, testified Tuesday before a House of Representatives committee about their concerns with a new policy. It could extend federal protection without congressional approval to millions of acres of wild lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.

   Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced late last year that the government will begin inventorying BLM holdings across the country in an effort to identify and protect wilderness-quality land, which was paused during the   Bush administration.

   Otter said he’s particularly concerned about what would happen to geothermal energy projects and potential wind power complexes proposed on BLM land in Idaho, as well as plans for transmission lines across some BLM land. The agency manages nearly a quarter of the land in Idaho, or about 12 million acres.

   The Interior Department has been actively fighting the way the BLM inventory is being characterized by Republicans, particularly those on the House Natural Resources Committee.


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