Bishop Highlights Coalition with Bill to Protect Test Range, Create Wilderness, and Block Nuclear Waste
Years in the making, the legislation creates wilderness designations in Utah's west desert and seeks to block encroachments on the UTTR, including the controversial proposal by the Goshute tribe to store high level nuclear waste dangerously close to the range. The Bishop bill, which was co-sponsored last year by fellow Utah Representatives Cannon and Matheson, passed the House Resources Committee during the last session of Congress and eventually received approval from the full House of Representatives.
The announcement to reintroduce the bill was made by Bishop during a press conference held today at the Utah State Capitol. Showing broad based support for the effort, the Republican lawmaker was joined by Governor Jon Huntsman, Congressman Chris Cannon, Congressman Jim Matheson, Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, and representatives of the Utah Defense Alliance and the Utah Wilderness Coalition, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
"This bill is a good example of what can be accomplished when groups and individuals work together," Congressman Bishop said. "I'm very proud of the input and advice we've received as this legislation has evolved. We would not be where we are today without the efforts of all who attended or were represented at today's event."
The bill, named the Utah Test and Training Range Protection Act, has three main components aimed at curtailing encroachments. First, it helps guarantee the ability of the military to use and overfly the lands that make up the range, ensuring continued military readiness and national security. Second, it blocks potential attempts to build a rail spur on federal lands near the range and the Goshute reservation, thus inhibiting the nuclear waste storage facility from being built. Were the nuclear waste site to be constructed, it would render nearly a third of the test and training range unusable due to the potential for accidents involving military craft. And third, to resolve potential encroachment conflicts with wilderness study areas (WSAs), the bill designates roughly 100,000 acres of land as wilderness in the area of the range. While protecting certain lands as wilderness in their pristine state, the legislation also releases a separate section of a WSA, which does not qualify for wilderness designation, and returns it to multiple use.
"Protecting Utah's military installations and Utah's citizens is our goal," Congressman Bishop commented. "This measure can be a win-win-win situation where we create wilderness the right way, help our military readiness, and block high level nuclear waste. Though it won't be an easy task getting it all the way through both chambers this session, I'm committed to doing everything I can with this coalition to move this legislation forward. It is in the best interest of our State and it should be enacted."