Today, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) introduced the Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act in both the U.S. Senate [S. 27] and U.S. House of Representatives[H.R. 356]. This legislation would facilitate the exchange of 20,000 acres of state-held mineral rights within the Hill Creek Extension of the Ute Indian Reservation for mineral rights on approximately 20,000 acres of federal land in the northern portion of the reservation in eastern Utah.
"This legislation is a win-win for the state of Utah and the Ute tribe," Hatch said. "The House did the smart thing last Congress and passed this common sense bill, and under Congressman Bishop's strong leadership will hopefully do so again. It is my hope that together we can get the Senate to do the right thing and create this new opportunity for energy development in Utah."
For several years, the Ute Tribe and the State of Utah have sought to exchange the mineral rights in order to preserve tribal cultural lands located within the state's current holdings. This legislation would help protect culturally sensitive areas while also providing new opportunities for potential energy development in the Uintah Basin upon which the state school trust fund relies. In previous Congresses, this legislation was viewed as non-controversial and received bi-partisan support in the House.
"This is a common-sense bill that protects the interests of all parties involved. It protects sensitive tribal lands and ensures that the state does not suffer a loss regarding its ability to generate revenue for the school trust fund. I am confident this legislation will again garner support in the House and it is my hope this year that the Senate will also recognize the merits of this important bill," said Congressman Bishop.
Congressman Jim Matheson (UT-04), Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), and Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-02), as well as Senator Mike Lee (Utah), are original co-sponsors of the legislation.