Hoping to muster up a stronger voice to direct towards Washington, Governor Gary Herbert met with the Governors of Wyoming and Idaho on Friday in the first ever “Rocky Mountain Roundtable.”
“This is really a beginning, the desire to communicate better as governors with each other and learn from each other, our success and our failures, and see if we can become better governors. And unite our voices where we have common concern.”
One of those concerns right now is the issue of federal public lands. The topic took center stage during this year’s legislative session when Herbert signed a bill saying Utah would demand control of those lands by 2014, likely resulting in a lawsuit. Republican Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming told reporters more research into the issue would have to be done before he would consider such action, asking,
“What is the net benefit analysis? The cost associated with those? Also what is the perception in terms of the public and when they come to Wyoming..are they going to be on public lands...are they going to be on deeded lands?”
Republican Governor Butch Otter of Idaho took a stronger stance saying Washington must be held accountable for promises it made to the states. But he didn’t comment on whether he would resort to such a lawsuit as well:
“You can pass all the legislation in Idaho that you wanted but if it’s not going to be recognized by the courts and Washington D.C., and if the question comes to one of is our sovereign rights stronger than the supremacy to the laws of the United States then that is a whole different question.”
As this conversation was taking place inside the governor’s mansion, dozens of protestors lined the streets outside with signs urging Herbert to keep Utah’s public lands in public hands.
Other Western governors were invited to Friday’s event but were unable to attend, including Democrat John Hickenlooper of Colorado. However, Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, joined the meeting for about 90 minutes by phone.