Last week, my wife and I attended the town hall meeting hosted by our representative John Curtis. There was a fairly large crowd of interested people, and audience was highly informed on the issues. I’m always amazed at the level of expertise shown by so many people in Moab.
Pretty quickly, Rep. Curtis admitted that he is new to the game of federal politics. But he’s already taken some well-meaning stabs at putting forward issues important to his constituents.
He personally approached President Trump to tell him about Utah’s family values — we can all guess how that was received.
Curtis cared enough to spend several days with the Navajo and Hopi tribes discussing his vision on how to protect Bears Ears National Monument from mineral extraction. Unfortunately, that didn’t go over too well either. Rep. Curtis admitted that the tribes rejected his ideas and are going to court to defend Obama’s original proclamation.
Right now, it looks like he’s decided to team up with a group where he might have more success — the Emery County Commissioners. Curtis recently introduced the Emery County San Rafael Swell bill that falls far short of what is needed to preserve this important area, leaving holes in unprotected ecosystems literally big enough to drive a fleet of fracking trucks through.
Though Curtis touts this bill as an example of coalition and consensus building, the three Emery County Commissioners had the biggest influence on what is in the bill. Grand County was left out of the decision-making process because, according to Curtis, they weren’t ready to make a plan.
Remember, we’re not talking about county issues and county land here. Curtis and three county commissioners are trying to make decisions about public lands that belong to all of us — whether we live in southern Utah or in northern Tennessee — these lands are our lands.
If Rep. Curtis is really serious about building consensus among the people he represents, he needs to start over with the Emery County San Rafael Swell bill and reach out to those of us who really care about preserving this unbelievable landscape. He can start right here in Moab — we’ve got lots of good ideas. Call him and let him know what you think: in Washington at 202-225-7751, and in Utah at 801-922-5400.