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Environmental radicals cost Utah a pretty penny

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Utahns should put some facts side by side for comparison and then decide whether it is time to "get mad as hell and not take it anymore."

First, Ken Rait of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance was behind the stealth attack by Bill Clinton on Utah's natural resource base when he locked up vast energy and mineral resources in the Grand Staircase Escalante monument to politics in southern Utah.Second, taxpayers along the Wasatch Front and in southern Utah are watching their property taxes go up to finance new and expanded public schools.

Catering to the anti-industry demands of the radical environmentalist is not without a price. Consider a few snippets from the recent past. In 1991, a Moab Times editorial observed that, "All top 10 property taxpayers (in the tourist Mecca of Moab) are either public utilities, rail and pipelines and oil and gas-related companies. . . . The number 10 taxpayer, for instance, is a person with a property tax bill of $61,527. . . . This person has oil and gas operations in the Book Cliffs."

The Grand County treasurer was cited as saying that the largest motels (in Grand County) have property tax bills that run from $15,000 to $20,000. Also in 1991, oil companies paid $866,000 in so-called "bonus bids" for oil lease tracts in Grand County. This payment is just for the lease, and half of this comes to the state of Utah.

The Utah Geological Survey reports that the 2,656 square miles of the new monument locks up between $223 billion and $330 billion in potential energy and mineral resources. Between $17 billion and $42 billion of this is projected to be under school trust lands.

The goods-producing jobs that would have been created with these resources are wiped out. SUWA says that we have tourism to replace them. The Utah Foundation has said that "the average wage in goods-producing industry is about 35 percent higher than the average wage in a service-producing job." The Foundation also said that, "Of greater significance . . . is the loss of taxable capital when goods-producing are replaced with service jobs. . . . Service-producing jobs tend to be capital (dollar) intensive while service-producing industries tend to be labor (people) intensive."

The contrast cannot be any clearer. Elitist environmentalist organizations like SUWA are driving industry out of Utah, and the result is that large blocks of tax revenue are being lost. This is happening at the same time that tourist jobs that SUWA supports are creating more public costs for such things as education.

The conclusion is that if you do not like your tax bill or the quality of your child's education or the quality of your road or the level of your wage, thank the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club.