Press Release

Supreme Court contender Sen. Mike Lee spouts extreme plan for selling out America’s public lands

Washington, DC

In a speech Friday, Utah Senator and Supreme Court contender Mike Lee outlined three bills he plans to introduce that would effectively hand over America’s public lands to state control where they would likely be leased for oil and gas development or sold off to private interests to balance state budgets.  

According to a transcript of Lee’s June 29 speech, one of his bills would effectively end the creation or expansion of national monuments in Utah, another would (presumably by selling off the land) enable local interests to use federal land for affordable housing, education, health care or research, and finally he said, “our long-term goal must be the transfer of federal lands to the states.”

Statement from Brad Brooks, Director, Public Lands Campaign, The Wilderness Society:

“Sen. Lee’s misleading and error-ridden speech paints an extreme vision in which America’s public lands are handed over to state control where they would be sold out or sold off to oil and gas development to benefit state treasuries.

These bills are un-American, and they insult the millions of families who will spend the anniversary of our country’s independence on their public lands across the country. The Wilderness Society opposes any efforts to sell out our nation’s natural and cultural heritage to an elite few.  We will hold Senator Lee and all members of Congress accountable for proposing to destroy our system of public lands.”


Federal lands belong to all Americans. They provide clean water and wildlife habitat as well as places for recreation. Also, millions of acres of federal land are currently leased and are open for oil and gas development.

Link to June 29 Lee speech to Utah-based Sutherland Institute, a free-market “think tank:”


The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.