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Tense moments in hearing, regarding Bears Ears National Monument bill

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 20:06:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Some tense moments as the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands was hearing a bill from Utah Representative John Curtis that would give the authority of law to President Donald Trump's executive order shrinking Bears Ears National Monument.

Utah Representative Rob Bishop is known for his sharp tongue, and he unleashed it on the Chair of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee, Shaun Chapoose.

"Do you know where fish creek actually is?" Bishop asked Chapoose about a photo Chapoose had offered as evidence.

The exchange ended with Bishop telling Chapoose he was wrong about the area the photo was taken and that it was still protected as a wilderness study area.

The back and forth was a clear demonstration of the two sides of the National Monument debate.

Chapoose and other tribal leaders saying the Obama administration showed them respect they never felt from President Donald Trump, Bishop and others in Utah's congressional delegation.

Meanwhile, Trump, Bishop and other Utah Republicans say the state has been abused by Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton using the antiquities act to curry favor with environmental groups.

After the hearing, local tribes and environmentalists in Salt Lake City gathered at the Utah State Capitol to protes the bill.

Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Society said he believes the Curtis bill would cut the legs out from under lawsuits against President Trump's executive order. Groene said he thinks the order is illegal and the tribes and environmental groups are likely to win decisions against efforts to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments.