Letter: Bill would legalize theft of public lands

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Ronald Winterton, R-Roosevelt, on the Senate floor at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

The Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) is the state agency which is mandated to distribute royalties from oil, gas and mineral extraction on federal lands back to local communities to alleviate social and economic impacts the community caused by the mineral development. These funds build local fire stations, water improvement projects and maintain roads in all rural counties in Utah. For instance, the Castle Valley Fire recently was able to use funds to procure a well for filling their trucks. And Canyonlands Field Airport was expanded with the help of CIB funds.
However, under pending legislation SB176 introduced by Ronald Winterton, this would all be undermined and instead CIB funds would be diverted to subsidize wealthy oil and mining companies for new fossil fuel development projects. Essentially, Sen. Winterton is seeking to open the floodgates for special interests to compete for already scarce city and county funding reserves.
I urge all Utahs to contact and urge your state senator to oppose this legalized theft of public funds.

Michael Budig, Salt Lake City
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