SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah wants to be sued.
In a pair of motions to intervene, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has asked the state be included as a defendant in lawsuits challenging President Trump’s authority to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
“The State has substantial interests, including sovereign interests, in the management of millions of acres of public land within its borders. Management of this land has direct and indirect economic impacts on the State and its citizens and directly implicates property rights held in trust by the State to support schools. Disposition of this matter in favor of Plaintiffs would impede the State’s ability to protect these interests; such a disposition could deprive the State of revenue and jeopardize the full use of the property rights it holds for the benefit of all Utahns. Intervention is also necessary because the Federal Defendants are not capable of adequately representing the State’s unique interests,” the Utah Attorney General’s Office said in the filings.
In a statement, Reyes’ office said “Utah seeks to become a defendant in order to present the state’s unique and essential perspective on the restructuring of the monuments.”
Environmental and tribal groups are suing, challenging the president’s decision to shrink the monuments. The state supported southern Utah counties’ request to move the lawsuit from Washington D.C., to Salt Lake City (a move seen by some as seeking a friendlier venue). A federal judge refused.