BOUNTIFUL -- For Sen. Orrin Hatch, being in public office means being in a place to make things happen. "I can do some things there (in Congress) that I don't think others can," he said, adding that it wasn't because others didn't have talent, but "because I've been there and I know how to do them." The first thing Hatch mentioned while he spoke to the Bountiful Rotary Club and their guests on Aug. 24 was the work done to support the Legacy Highway project. While he mentioned that it might appear that the Sierra Club worked harder to gain what they wanted on the issue, he said, "Sheldon Killpack and Stuart Adams were both great workers on that." Hatch also mentioned that he had tried to get wording into a bill which would have eliminated the Sierra Club's case, but was unable to put it through to the vote.
Still, he felt that the work done in Washington for the Legacy Highway was successful. "I might add," he said, "that we got highway funds for Utah that Utah had never dreamed of getting -- all legitimate."
Hatch also expressed confidence in the work being done to utilize Utah's energy resources when Bill McGuire with the Davis County Attorney's Office, asked about the recent energy bill, and the possibility of developing oil shale and tar sands.
Stating that he had condensed a lot of policies into the energy bill, Hatch stated that one of them was designed to open up development of oil shale and tar sands.
"We're sitting on in Utah and Colorado 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil," he said, explaining that the oil is in the form of oil shale and tar sands.
While it is more expensive to process oil from shale, with costs at about $34 a barrel, according to Hatch, he emphasized that it would still cost less than imported oil.
Other policies in the energy bill are designed to create cleaner air, promote geothermal energy and get people into position to start production of energy from the resources we have.
Hatch was concerned that potential for good energy is being wasted. "We are the Saudi Arabia of clean-burn, environmentally sound coal," he said. "With it, we can produce clean-burn diesel and jet fuel.
"Utah is the future of energy." However, he said that Clinton tied up many of the resources into a monument without consulting anyone in Utah.
Hatch then discussed Hill Air Force Base, mentioning some of the actions he has taken to prevent the base from closing. "I've brought generals out, and they always come away saying 'We can't lose this base,'" he said. "I can't do everything, but I'll do my best."
Hatch also mentioned the work he has been doing to promote embryonic stem cell research. "We're asking to take the thousands of cast-off embryos that are disposed of as medical waste every year and establish stem cell lines for research with them."
Hatch and others were able to gain enough support for the research to put it before President Bush, knowing that he would veto the bill.
"This is the most important biomedical research in the country," Hatch said.
"We have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that are eating us alive." According to Hatch those programs and the military will soon take all available government money, leaving nothing for roads and other services, unless something changes.
"Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to alleviate many diseases and eliminate the need for surgeries like knee replacements that are so expensive," he said, suggesting that saving such expenses will prevent Medicare from taking over the budget.
Hatch even proposed a compromise when the bill was vetoed. Since President Bush had previously allowed the use of federal funds to research 78 existent stem cell lines, Hatch suggested that those funds be used to research 300--400 stem cell lines that had been developed in the private sector more recently.
"The problem with the 78 lines is that they all appear to be adulterated with mouse feeder cells, so the NIH can't to anything with them," said Hatch reiterating that the research effort should be transferred to new lines.
There are many that are opposed to embryonic stem cell research because it eliminates the possibility of the embryo being born.
Hatch is talking about conducting research on embryos that would otherwise be disposed of. As he explains, "that egg hasn't got a chance of being a human being unless it is implanted in a womb.
"The more people learn about this, the more they understand, the more they support it."