By Robert Gehrke
An attempt to strip out of a budget bill $300,000 to try to get the gray wolf removed from the endangered species list fell short Tuesday.
Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, argued the wolf-lobbying contract lacked accountability or information about what the contract had accomplished.
"For a body that cares about accountability, it’s my information that we have very little information about how the $300,000 was spent last year and money that was spent in previous years was used," she said.
Arent wanted to use the money for a program that encourages women to attend college which is losing its funding this year, and to pay for the Department of Environmental Quality’s emergency response and monitoring equipment at the Division of Air Quality.
Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said that he, too, has asked for information about the lobbying contract and not received adequate answers.
"I don’t know how I feel about wolves. To me the issue is accountability," he said.
Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, said the money to fight for the delisting of the wolf is important.
"We’re fighting the Endangered Species Act which is a federal tool that hurts us in this state," he said. "This is a battle that is certainly worthy of fighting."
And House Budget Chairman Mel Brown, R-Coalville, said that, while he has been critical of the money for the wolf-lobbying in the past, he said that environmental groups have persuaded federal agencies to postpone taking the wolf off the Endangered Species List.
The money the Legislature proposed spending would get the process moving again, Brown said.
"I’d hate to see us, at this point, vacate a process we’ve spent a lot of money on in previous years," Brown said.
Arent’s attempt failed 42-23.
Please write a letter to the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune today, thanking them for this article and expressing outrage at Utah’s tax dollars being spent to enrich Don Peay and his cronies at the expense of education, wolves and the Endangered Species Act. Click here for the first article in this series, and scroll down the page for letter to the editor talking points.
Follow this link for a list Utah Representatives and how they voted on the amendment to remove the $300,000 for anti-wolf lobbying from the budget.
Those who voted “yea”, voted in favor of having the $300,000 for anti-wolf lobbying removed. Please contact the Legislators who voted yea and thank them not supporting this taxpayer assault on wolves. Contact information can be found here.
You can also help by contacting the Governor and tell him this proposal is an outrage. Ask him to veto the budget bill as it stands with this anti-wolf lobbying appropriation. Calls are most effective.
Governor Gary R. Herbert - 801 538-1000
When you call, simply say that you find this proposed allocation of your money to pay Don Peay to lobby against wolves morally reprehensible and economically irresponsible. Tell him that you think the State would be better served by using this money for education and the Department of Environmental Quality. If you email, say the same thing and in the subject line of your message say in capital letters NO MONEY TO ATTACK WOLVES AND THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT! .
Thank you for taking action for these wonderful animals!