Peter Metcalf: Bloomberg would honor Wallace Stegner’s vision for the West

(Spenser Heaps | The Deseret News via AP) This July 9, 2017, file photo, shows a view of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Utah is blessed to have some of the most diverse, spectacular and iconic landscapes in America, and we who live here think of ourselves as their stewards. There is a sanctity in protecting our land and our landscapes. These federal public lands belong to all Utahns — and to every American.

The current administration is prioritizing gas, oil, mineral and ranching interests over everything else. Nothing else matters: Not the watershed, or recreation, or hunting, or fishing, or clean air, or climate change (which Donald Trump denies even exists).

Our environmental protections are being gutted, putting the health and well being of our citizens at risk. The assault on our stewardship, of our life-supporting, God-given assets, has been quick and brutal. New BLM plans have been drafted and deployed without adequate opportunity for study or public input, and the greater community involvement that has occurred has been a charade.

The take downs of Grand Staircase and Bears Ears national monuments are not only egregious, but also illegal.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Oil, gas and mineral mining aren’t the only players at the table.

Outdoor recreation use of Utah’s public lands generates billions of dollars in revenue and over 100,000 jobs. We need the federal government to recognize the multitudes of uses for our public lands and to work with all communities, tribes, the business community, and all Americans to make common sense, common use, future oriented, decisions about these priceless places.

The first Mormon settlers came to Utah as pioneers. Historically, being a pioneer meant one moved from a settled place to a wild one. How brave our ancestors were. Today, being a pioneer, requires equal bravery. We must stand up for the sanctity of these lands and celebrate what they contribute to our unique, Utah, high quality of life, our vibrant economy and our sustainable future. We must call out the wrongdoings of those who are putting our futures at risk, and elect leaders who will be our champions.

This is why I’m supporting Mike Bloomberg for president. He has made it clear that he wants policies that protect people, not special interests.

Mike will reverse Trump’s rollbacks on clean air, clean water, climate change, public land decision making and he will reinstate protections for places like the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. As a true champion of climate change arresting policies, he’ll put a moratorium on new land giveaways for oil and gas drilling.

He will also develop a plan to conserve or protect 30% of the country’s lands and waters while increasing access for recreation, setting up a collaborative process with scientists and the public to identify places that need better protection and/or are integral to our climate change battle.

He will shift energy policy to make our public lands carbon-neutral by 2030, restore landscapes to increase carbon sequestration, and reform oil and gas drilling to put in place better health and environmental rules. He will also make oil and gas companies pay their fair share for drilling on public lands.

Mind you, I’m not against all oil and gas and mineral mining, but we must be future oriented and strategic in determining what is the best and highest value of specific landscapes, in the long term, and zone appropriately. It’s not either, or. And, it never has been.

If we continue to only exploit our public lands, undermine our air and water quality, destroy our antiquities, marginalize native Americans, decimate our recreational economy and high quality of life, we will be judged harshly by our descendants. We will also be at odds with our Utah Values.

In the words of Utah’s native son Wallace Stegner, “I would like to see the West with all its sub-regions and subculture, both prosperous and environmentally healthy, with a civilization to match its scenery.”

Stegner’s vision is a prayer that asks us to be brave and to stand up in order to fulfill our role as stewards before it is too late.

Peter Metcalf

Peter Metcalf is the founder and former CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, vice chairman of the Conservation Lands Foundation and board member of the Outdoor Industry’s Conservation Alliance.