Wasatch Environmental Update for March 5, 2017
By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
Utah’s Legislature – 2017
The Utah Legislature! It’s never elevating to look into their workings, but here we are, just a few days away from the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. While it’s the frantic final days that produce the worst surprises, let’s talk a bit about what has been happening in the past weeks.
Much of the Legislature’s time is spent on resolutions and other wishful bills that will have very little impact on our immediate lives. But there are others that, when passed or if passed, would make a difference.
Among the resolutions is one calling for the president to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Declaration, only a few months old. This is a long shot, but the Legislature needs to express itself. They have backed off of their threat to wrest a few million acres of public land from federal control by litigation, hoping that a newly friendly Washington will turn over those acres willingly.
Just about our least favorite Utah legislator, Mike Noel, has floated a couple of useless resolutions. One urges the BLM to invite state and local influence on the rules for motorized access into public lands, and another suggests using the Recreation and Public Purposes Act to acquire the Bears Ears National Monument.
In a bit of actual dirty work, the legislature approved HB11, a bill removing the requirement of political party balance on a large number of state boards and commissions, including the Air Quality Board and the Water Quality Board. Those board used to be almost equally balanced, but now there will be no requirement for balance. What are they afraid of? Many in the environmental community are urging the governor’s veto.
Here is one that we firmly support: SB151, by Senator Dabakis, would limit the state’s water purveyors’ practice of collecting property taxes, which would require water users to pay more fairly for the water they use, and presumably use less water. Read about it on the website of Utah Rivers Council, www.utahrivers.org. But, alas, it hasn’t a chance.
www.greatsaltlakeaudubon.org will show you a long list of bills and resolutions that are relevant to them, and probably to you as well.