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Advancing Utah's Energy Future

Commission will pursue outside counsel for public lands fight

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Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret News

Much like the Utah Legislature used outside legal counsel in its ethics probe of then-Attorney General John Swallow, independent legal advice will be sought for Utah’s public lands quest.

A Tuesday vote by the Legislative Management Committee gave approval to the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands to pursue a request for proposals from law firms in the spring.

Democratic members of the management committee balked at the move, with Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, citing concern over what could end up being a blank check for the effort.

“My concern is I am not sure how much money I am committing to this process,” Briscoe said, adding that litigation in the public lands war could drag on for a decade a more.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said the Tuesday vote was not an approval for a contractual amount but will simply get the request-for-proposals process started once the legislative session ends in March.

“There is no money associated with this,” Lockhart said, explaining the vote.

Commission Chairman Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, said later that members want a legal analysis of the state’s case for getting control of federal lands and what strategies Utah could potentially launch. (…)

To read more, please visit the Deseret News.