It seems a new Sagebrush Rebellion is brewing. Last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation that demands the federal government return 30 million acres to the state by 2014. National parks, military installations and Indian lands would not be part of the return.
Utah is out in front, but it is not alone. Lawmakers in the Arizona Senate have passed a bill similar to Utah's while the legislatures in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico are reportedly following Salt Lake City's lead.
The movement is particularly relevant because in President Obama's feeble attempt to deflect blame for rising gasoline prices, he has repeatedly claimed that oil production has increased during his term. But what he has failed to mention is that the expansion has been on private lands. Production on federal land has fallen since he took office, due to his restrictive policies.
With Washington out of the way, the oil-rich states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Montana can unlock their resources that have been trapped by Washington, which itself is captive to radical environmental interests.
The most recent Sagebrush Rebellion began in the 1970s when Western states tried to break Washington's tight control over public lands within their borders. While running for the White House in 1980, Ronald Reagan told supporters at a stop in Salt Lake City to "count me in as a rebel."
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