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Attempt to strip dollars for anti-wolf lobbyist fails

Published March 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Budget • Some Republicans join in opposition to funding, citing 'accountability.'
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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.