[Nuclear News] In an e-mail spammed to 160,000 Utahns Thursday, two Utah lawmakers with ambitions to build nuclear power plants say creating more wilderness areas in the Beehive State is akin to supporting terrorists.
Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, and Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, say the Red Rock Wilderness Act pending in Congress to provide wilderness protection to more than 9 million acres in Utah "will hamstring our ability to produce American energy right here in Utah.
"That leads America to become more dependent on energy from hostile foreign nations—some of whom fund terrorist organizations that are right now targeting our American men and women in uniform."
Besides, Tilton and Noel write, wilderness hurts people in wheelchairs and raises utility bills for the poor.
To highlight their point, the lawmakers’ e-mail links to a Website, StopUtahLandGrab.org, which shows photos of Osama bin Laden, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—all of whom, the site assures us, are big supporters of the Utah wilderness bill.
Small print at the bottom tells readers stoputahlandgrab is a project of Americans for American Energy, an outfit created in 2006 by a public relations company as a fake “grass roots” group to push for opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Tilton became involved with Americans for American Energy more recently and is now the group’s vice chairman.
The Utah wilderness bill will “force America to buy more of our energy from foreign dictators who hate America,” the Website says. “These monsters will get more of our energy dollars to fund terrorism”
And foreign terrorists aren’t the only extremists backing Utah wilderness protection. New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who is sponsoring the Red Rock bill, is “a political extremist in the U.S. Congress.” The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and the Utah Sierra Club also are “extremist groups [whose support for wilderness] ”is precisely what these foreign terrorists want.”
The site directs users to send a form letter to politicians opposing the Red Rock Wilderness Act.
Who can save us from the terrorist by supplying a homegrown energy supply? How about Tilton, CEO of a new company that aims to set up two or more nuclear power plants in Utah. A task that might be more difficult if say, the federal government declared additional wilderness near the Green River where reports indicate Tilton wants to erect his nuclear power plants.
The Red Rock Wilderness Act seeks to give wilderness protection to areas like the Book Cliffs north of the Green River and the San Rafael Swell, a formation proposed for national monument designation in the late-1990s that is located in the vicinity of Emery County, a possible location for Tilton’s nuclear power plants.
SUWA has been pushing the Red Rock Wilderness bill since 1988 when it was first introduced by Utah Rep. Wayne Owens. Since Owens left Congress, Utah’s own congressional delegation won’t touch the bill. In recent year’s it’s been sponsored by New York’s Hinchey. The bill has never gotten off the ground, but, with both the houses of Congress controlled by Democrats, some energy producers are fearful.
As opponents to the Red Rock Wilderness bill ratchet up their rhetoric, SUWA is soft pedaling its own.
“The conversation about how to protect wild lands has become polarized and everyone is missing the point,” says Deeda Seed, who heads up SUWAs “dialogue” project that has been hosting mediated conversations about wilderness around the state. “We have an amazing landscape. How can we work together to protect it? We hope to engage the vast majority of Utahns in the middle in answering that question. One way to protect wild lands is wilderness [protection]; there are other ways.”
“To Tilton and Noel: we’re listening,” Seed says. “We’d be happy to sit down and talk to them about how to care for this land that really defines Utah. We’re all about talking and listening. We’re not terrorists.”
The Americans for American Energy “Stop Utah Land Grab” Website has been up at least since December, according to SUWA. When SUWA came across it last year, the site included a poll with this question:
“Do you support SUWA’s campaign to stop Utah from harvesting more of our state’s abundant oil and gas resources even though this makes us more dependent on hostile foreign nations for those resources?”
The poll is no longer on the Website. But results (according to a screen capture taken by SUWA) showed 84 percent to 16 percent supported SUWA’s wilderness proposal … and, presumably, the terrorists. (Ted McDonough)