Wasatch Environmental Update for March 20, 2016
By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
“Utah Legislative Session 2016”
The gavel has fallen on the final day of the Utah Legislature’s 2016 General Session. Usually we draw a breath of relief when the session ends, as then they can do us no more harm until next winter. But not this year, and we’ll tell you why after we give a brief roundup of the good, bad and the ugly for this session.
The list of Good bills is agonizingly short, though the lawmakers did support rooftop solar energy, and cleaner exhaust from water heaters, and also made some minor provisions for pollution controls and clean air.
Two Bad bills are not only bad but costly. The spendthrifts in the legislature supported an investment of $53 million in a planned coal-shipping terminal in Oakland, justified as support for Utah’s ailing coal mining industry. Another bill authorizes the state to start stealing money from transportation enterprises to make a nest-egg for the pipeline that would take water across the state from Lake Powell to stimulate the greenery in Washington County. Conversely, they saved some money by failing to fund proposals for Air Quality testing. And decided, cost free, to do nothing about tightening building codes which would have led to more energy-efficient buildings statewide.
This is just a whiff of the legislation at the Capitol this year. You can develop your own sources for hearing about it all. We recommend the websites of HEALUtah, the Sierra Club and Great Salt Lake Audubon.
OK. We don’t like the results of the 2016 Session. So what should be done? The hard work begins now, as we ask ourselves why are we so badly represented. We talked a few weeks back about the Colorado College State of the Rockies Report, which reported that overwhelming numbers of our citizens, both on the left and on the right, are supportive of measures leading to clean air, clean water, energy efficiency and many other environmental benefits. Nevertheless our representatives locally and in Washington, systematically vote otherwise.
It seems almost wasted effort to lobby and testify during the crowded legislative session. We must, instead, be working all year to make our case and even more important, to elect the right people to make it for us.