Reporting from Salt Lake City - Long frustrated by Washington's control of much of their state, Utah legislators are proposing a novel way to deal with federal land -- seize it and develop it.
The Utah House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill allowing Utah to use eminent domain to seize land the federal government owns and has long protected from development.
The state wants to develop three hotly contested areas -- national forest land in the Wasatch Mountains north of Salt Lake City, land in a proposed wilderness area in the red rock southwestern corner of the state, and a stretch of desert outside of Arches National Park that the Obama administration has declared off-limits to oil and gas development.
Supporters argue that provisions in the legislation that granted Utah statehood would allow it to make such a land grab. They also hope to spark a showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court that would rearrange the balance of power between states and the federal government.
Some legal experts say that push is unlikely to succeed, but Republican state Rep. Chris Herrod, one of the authors, says the state has little choice. "I love America, and I'm a peaceful guy," Herrod said, "but the only real option we have is rebellion, which I don't believe in, and the courts."