This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Whether it is realistic or not, the scuttlebutt continues throughout legislative circles that Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, has a shot at being appointed director of the Bureau of Land Management, an agency he has raged against for years.

Noel has applied for the job and he has some apparent support from groups that have long had issues with the BLM, including members of the Utah Farm Bureau and the Utah Cattleman's Association.

But his most important ally might be powerful sportsmen's lobbyist Don Peay, an influential player in Utah and national legislative circles who was one of the chief drum beaters for President-elect Donald Trump's campaign in the Beehive State.

Besides his political clout and how he used it to help Trump's campaign, Peay also has taken Trump's sons on hunting trips, making him more than just a political adviser.

Peay and other lobbyists have been able to wrest hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Utah Legislature in order to orchestrate anti-wolf campaigns in Congress to supposedly keep the predator away from Utah livestock.

Noel, arguably the most radical anti-environmentalist battler in the Legislature, has been a key figure in helping Peay navigate his lobbying agenda in the Legislature.

Noel's consideration as BLM director might seem comical to some. He not only has been rabid about his dislike for what he considers intrusion by federal agencies on the rights of local landowners, but his public vitriol at times has been weird.

He personally attacked an environmental lawyer testifying before a legislative committee meeting for hating his kids and grandkids because she is trying to deprive them of jobs by backing environmental regulations.

He took a protest ride on protected lands and later tried to get taxpayer funding for a legal defense fund for his friend, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, who actually was convicted for a different protest ATV ride on protected land.

Noel also has been a supporter of lawsuits against the BLM for allegedly illegally closing historic roads on BLM land.

He even used his clout in the Legislature to use some gas tax money dedicated to improving rural roads to help fund the lawsuit.

And, while criticizing the tactics of the anti-government protesters who led an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, he has expressed sympathy for their cause and has friendly relationships with the self-proclaimed patriots who run in the same circles as those protesters.

Noel's son, Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel, was quoted in a recent Southern Poverty Law Center article in its publication, the "Intelligence Report," about rogue sheriffs in rural America defying the federal government.

"I am the only elected official in my county that performs law enforcement functions," Cameron Noel told the SPLC. "The federal government, the BLM, the Forest Service, the FBI, the DEA, any of those guys, they're not elected. Those other entities, they answer to me."

So if Mike Noel were the director of the BLM, he would have to answer to his son before he could approve any enforcement activities in Beaver County. And based on Mike Noel's past rhetoric, he probably would agree with that idea.

All this makes Mike Noel, a prospective BLM director who hates the BLM, a perfect fit for Trump's administration given some of Trump's other picks so far.

Trump's nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, has a record of fighting against public education as a long-time advocate of diverting taxpayer money to tuitions at private schools.

His nominee for labor secretary, fast food executive Andrew Puzder, has a record of animosity toward labor, advocating for more robots taking human jobs.

Trump's nominee for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has a record of suing the EPA.

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has a longstanding mutually beneficial business relationship with Russian leader and old anti-U.S. Cold Warrior Vladimir Putin.

And Trump's pick for national security advisor, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, famously said at the Republican National Convention that Hilary Clinton should be locked up for mishandling her emails, while Flynn himself has been accused of mishandling classified information.

So once again, Noel could fit right in with this administration. —