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Utah economy

Utah economy

Utah’s oil and gas industry is as busy today as it was during Trump’s “energy domination” days

There were only three drilling rigs in Utah’s oil and gas fields last January when new President Joe Biden suspended new leases on public lands while his administration revised the federal program of oil and gas.

Today, 10 platforms are digging new wells in the Uinta Basin, according to energy consultant Baker Hughes. Meanwhile, the industry has inundated agencies with drilling proposals in Utah, filing more applications in the past six months than in any six-month period under the favorable rule of the United States. Donald Trump’s industry as president, according to state data.

As state and industry leaders predict a disaster for energy development and rural employment from the Biden moratorium, which they call a development “ban”, the exact opposite seems to be happening. Utah’s oil and gas sector is waking up from its pandemic-induced slumber despite hurdles put in place by the climate-friendly Biden administration.

So what is going on? The price of oil has exceeded $ 70 a barrel. Energy companies are moving quickly to increase production as prices remain high, the Utah Oil, Gas and Mining Division said.

The boom is proof that financial incentives are driving energy development in Western public land states, not White House decrees, according to Landon Newell, a lawyer with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

“Utah said the sky was going to fall [because of Biden’s lease moratorium], but that was directly contradicted by the facts and reality, ”Newell said. “They’re drilling like mad in the basin where the governor’s office said things would stand still.”

Critics of the Biden administration have repeatedly characterized the moratorium as over-federal in scope and predicted dire consequences for the rural West. An industry-backed study from the University of Wyoming, for example, said a development ban on federal land would blow a $ 15 billion hole in Utah’s economy over 20 years.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s office said in May that the lease moratorium “would end potential future exploration and investment.”

While welcoming the upsurge in drilling, Cox maintains his previous position, according to Thom Carter, director of the governor’s office for energy development.

“The economic impact of all of this can be significant and we are concerned that the decisions will be felt nationwide and have a disproportionate effect on rural Utah,” Carter said. “While your report regarding a rebound in the pandemic is excellent, there are still real economic issues surrounding oil right now, including the cost at the pump which is at times declining.”

So far this year, Utah drillers have started 144 wells, state data shows. That’s almost that much at 154 for the whole of 2019, the year before the pandemic, and puts the year on track to beat 2018 and 2017, when 204 and 199 wells, respectively, were drilled.

Rikki Hrenko-Browning, president of the Utah Petroleum Association, attributed the rebound to a combination of factors, such as leases entered into during the previous administration, with a large number of claims submitted anticipating the Biden administration to fail. would support no new federal drilling, and a move to tribal lands.

“There is a long delay between rental, authorization and actual drilling, and it will take time for the full effects of the federal rental policy to be felt,” she said in an e- mail. “However, right now our state is lacking key revenues from lease sales that should have taken place this year and jobs are at risk if the illegal rental ban continues.”

Critics in the industry, however, argue that Utah’s oil and gas recovery tells a different story. They say it reinforces arguments made in internal memos prepared by Utah state agencies and a new report claiming the Biden lease moratorium will not slow energy development in the short term.

This is because so much public land in Western states has been leased for oil and gas development by the Trump administration. The glut of undeveloped federal leases in Utah would support drilling for the next 60 to 90 years at recent activity levels, according to a report released Wednesday by the Conservation Economics Institute, an Idaho-based think tank.

“We think these western states have their economies completely tied to this industry,” said Anne Hawke of the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC. “But in fact, there is so much more going on economically in these states in terms of information services and jobs.”

The report was commissioned by SUWA, NRDC and several other conservation nonprofits that strongly support lease reform. He examines federal leases in Utah and four other Western power-producing states: New Mexico, Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming.

The groups released it on Wednesday ahead of the expected White House announcement of proposed reforms to the federal rental program overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.

“When the industry panicked after the Biden moratorium, this report provides a reason,” Hawke said. “It’s a long game and it’s not like we’re going to finish tomorrow. Jobs are not affected as they say. It highlights all the reasons why stepping back and taking a break are truly rational gestures. We all know the system is down. We need to look at the royalties.

There is also evidence that speculation is rampant in the federal rental program, particularly in Utah, where thousands of acres of leases are awarded to people with no known ability to actually develop them.

In his first day in office, Biden halted new leases while the Home Office conducted a comprehensive review, which he recently submitted to the White House. The moratorium only blocked new leases; it did not apply to drilling or production from existing leases.

A federal judge has since overturned the moratorium on leases, but the BLM has yet to resume offering new leases in Utah, although some have been issued in other states.

While environmentalists hope Biden’s reforms will limit federal leases, especially in environmentally sensitive or scenic locations, Utah officials want the industry to retain access to public energy resources in the West.

“We’re not interested in actions that pit rural and urban Utahns or rural and urban Americans against each other, and that’s what the president talked about when he was inaugurated, that’s what the governor Cox believes wholeheartedly, ”Carter said. “We want market-based decisions. We don’t want government decisions, so if the market determines some of the [the drilling surge], It’s awesome.”

Yet at the end of the day, federal lands are not at the heart of Utah’s oil and gas production, even though Utah is a key public land state. Of the 1,654 wells currently proposed for Utah, according to Carter, 58% are on non-federal land – that is, tribal, state or private land.

A review of past drilling and production shows that only a third of this activity in Utah has occurred on federal land. Yet a lot of federal land has been leased. According to BLM statistics, less than half of Utah’s 3 million acres under lease are in production.

In other words, unused oil and gas leases occupy 1.7 million federal acres in Utah, some of which are in sight of national parks and monuments. There is little the Biden administration can do to stop the industry from drilling most of this land.

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Utah economy

Great American Outdoors Act Anniversary Announces Free Day on Public Lands this Week – St George News

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Undated 2017 file photo shows hiker descending Angels Landing Road with nearly 1,000-foot falls on both sides, Zion National Park, Utah | Photo by Caitlin This / Zion National Park, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – On Wednesday, designated as “Great American Outdoors Day”, the Home Office will celebrate the first anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act. The law, which was passed with strong bipartisan support, makes unprecedented investments in national parks, public lands and Native American schools.

Hiked Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Red Mountain Resort, St. George News

To support the department’s commitment to ensure equitable access to public lands, entrance fees will be removed on Wednesday on all fee-paying public lands managed by the department, according to a press release issued by the department. Other charges, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group daytime use, and use of special areas, remain in effect.

“Creating new jobs and growing our economy is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration. Through the Great American Outdoors Act, we are investing in the American people and in the future of our public lands and sacred spaces, ”Home Secretary Deb Haaland said in the press release. “I invite all Americans to experience the beauty and bounty of our nation’s public lands – not just August 4, but every day of the year.”

The Great American Outdoors Act helps support the goals of President Joe Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative to support locally-led efforts to conserve, restore and protect lands and waters across the country to help cope with crises in the climate and biodiversity, increase equitable access to wide open spaces and strengthen the economy, the statement said.

This summer is particularly busy on many public lands. While most of the 423 national parks are open, visitors may find limited services in and around the national parks. Check each park’s websites or download the NPS app for specific details on their operations. Learn more about alternatives to popular parks on the Interior blog. Public land enthusiasts are encouraged to similarly plan their visits with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Photo by Yobro10 / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

The Act provides for full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $ 900 million per year. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to protect the nation’s natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage, and to provide recreational opportunities for all Americans.

The Act also established the National Parks and Public Lands Heritage Restoration Fund to provide the necessary maintenance of essential facilities on public lands and Indian schools. The projects funded by the restoration will help reduce Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog by more than $ 22 billion and improve recreation facilities, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools and other historic structures. Other projects aim to increase public access by restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges and parking areas.

By FY2022, Great American Outdoors Act-funded indoor projects are expected to support more than 17,000 jobs and generate $ 1.8 billion in local communities. Between the funding planned for FY2021 and the funding proposed for FY2022, Interior has deferred maintenance plans for the Legacy Restoration Fund in all 50 states and several U.S. territories.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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Utah economy

Google, industry experts push back Play Store lawsuit by Utah AG

In a political landscape that continues to shake partisan bickering and hostility in Utah and across the country, finding even a small patch of common ground is an increasingly distant prospect.

But a new survey from Pew Research has found that the reddest Republicans and the bluest Democrats share a bogeyman they all would like to see curbed.

Large American technology companies.

And it’s a meme that hasn’t been missed by elected officials on both sides of the aisle who are engaged, at the highest level ever, in efforts to address perceived issues with driving America’s tech companies across. a torrent of regulations, legislation and legal efforts.

Utah is playing an outsized role in a few of these proceedings, including a handful of federal lawsuits that have put some of the biggest tech platforms in the crosshairs.

Earlier this month, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that his office is co-leading a new lawsuit targeting Google and its alleged anti-competitive practices in the way the company runs its Play Store, the first distributor of applications for phones running on another Google. product, the Android operating system.

The action marks the third multi-state lawsuit that includes Utah among plaintiffs trying to take on major U.S. tech companies for alleged abuses of market dominance. The other cases are against Facebook and another Google lawsuit that focuses on the company’s search functions. While a federal judge dismissed the complaint against Facebook last month, the case is still ongoing and could resume if an amended complaint is filed. Reyes has not been able to cite the costs of the various lawsuits so far, but said it was likely “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

Reyes said Google is scamming consumers and small businesses by charging unfair commissions, in some cases up to 30%, on things like in-app purchases and upgrades for popular games.

“Google is using its hyper-dominant position in the market to illegally mine additional billions of dollars from small businesses and consumers,” Reyes said at a press briefing. “We believe these are monopoly actions that need to be dealt with immediately.”

Reyes said his office has heard numerous complaints from consumers in Utah, businesses in Utah and businesses out of state about the impacts of Google’s fees, which he says exceed by far more market-oriented commission rates of 2% to 3% charged by others, but smaller. , application distributors. He also called the company for manipulating the Android system to malfunction when running programs sold outside of Google Play, also sometimes referred to as the Play Store, forcing developers to follow Google’s rules.

Google says the claims are wrong and that Google Play operates in a more open fashion than its competitors and chooses not to “impose the same restrictions as other mobile operating systems.”

In a blog post published on July 7, the day the new lawsuit was filed, Wilson White, senior director of public policy at Google, wrote that Google Play operates in an environment teeming with competitors, including some like the Apple’s App Store that surpasses it when it comes to revenue.

“So it’s strange that a group of state attorneys general have chosen to take legal action to attack a system that offers more openness and choice than others,” White wrote. “This complaint mimics an equally unfounded lawsuit filed by big app developer Epic Games, which took advantage of Android’s opening up by distributing its Fortnite app outside of Google Play.”

It should be noted that since the publication of this blog entry, Epic Games’ federal lawsuit against Google has joined the action that Utah is co-leading.

James Czerniawski, Technology and innovation policy analyst at the Utah-based libertarian think tank Libertas Institute, also sees issues with the latest filing against Google, which includes around 30 state attorneys general as co – Complainants from Utah.

A closer look at the overall app vendor market, Czerniawski said, shows that some of the claims on file, including outsized commission rates, just don’t hold up.

“The 30% commission, despite AG Reyes’ claim, is not anti-competitive,” Czerniawski said in a statement. “It’s actually within the perfectly normal range for what you would expect from a store. Whether you look at Valve’s Steam Store, Sony’s Playstation Store, Microsoft’s Store for Xbox (even their Windows Store for PC until recently), Amazon, and Samsung’s Galaxy Store, the commission rates are all in. this range of 20 to 30%.

“It’s also worth noting that Google, Apple and Microsoft have all announced some form of commission rate policy adjustment. This puts downward pressure on this 30% commission rate and it would not be surprising if this top rate decreases in the future. “

Czerniawski also noted that Reyes and his co-plaintiffs should not be so quick to dismiss the legal reasoning behind the Federal Court’s dismissal of the Facebook complaint.

“While Attorney General Reyes is correct in determining that the FTC and States’ outcome against Facebook does not necessarily have a direct impact on his ongoing litigation in this case or others, as these cases involve different issues, it’s not necessarily in the clear either, “Czerniawski said.” The FTC lost to Facebook in part because the federal judge correctly identified that the FTC and state AGs did not succeeded in demonstrating real evidence that was legally sufficient to justify their complaint of antitrust violations.

“The reason that matters for this litigation and other ongoing litigation is that Attorney General Reyes and others will have to do a much better job of demonstrating the harm to consumers if they are to have these cases taken seriously by a court.”

Czerniawski said he keeps a rough tally of federal legislative activity focused on the conduct of U.S. technology platforms and noted dozens of proposals currently focused on the rules that govern the management of social media, such as the article 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, or amendments to existing federal antitrust regulations.

While the data collected in the new Pew report focused on respondents’ feelings about social media platforms, it provides further evidence that consumers, regardless of their political affiliation, mostly harbor bad feelings about social media. About the conduct of large technology companies.

In a survey conducted in late June that included responses from more than 4,700 American adults, Pew found Americans mostly suspicious of how big tech companies work.

“A majority of Americans think social media companies have too much power and influence in politics, and about half think big tech companies should be regulated more than they are now,” it read. in the report, which comes as four top tech executives prepare to testify ahead of Congress about their businesses’ role in the economy and society.

While the majority of Republicans and Democrats in the survey expressed qualms about social media platforms, Pew’s data also reflects some differences among party members.

The report found that “about 8 in 10 Republicans and Independents of Republican leanings (82%) think these companies have too much power and influence in politics, compared to 63% of Democrats and Democrats. Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely than Republicans to say that these companies have about the right amount of power and influence in politics (28% vs. 13%). Small actions on both sides believe that these companies do not have enough power. “

A Utah-specific poll in February this year also revealed broad skepticism of tech companies and a similar partisan difference with Beehive State Republicans who are more cynical than their Democratic neighbors.

For its part in the latest legal activity, Google claims that the vast majority of app sellers pay no commission and point the finger at big developers as the source from which the grievances arise.

“This lawsuit is not about helping the little guy or protecting consumers,” White wrote in his blog post in response to the Google Play lawsuit. “It’s about stimulating a handful of major app developers who want to enjoy the benefits of Google Play without paying for it.

“This risks increasing costs for small developers, hampering their ability to innovate and compete, and make apps in the Android ecosystem less secure for consumers. ”

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Utah economy

How the Western “mega-drought” could cause more “water wars”

Brad Howard, CNBC Producer: Water is a crucial resource that all humans need.

Emma Newburger, CNBC Business News: And right now, what we’re seeing is that there just isn’t enough water for everyone.

Maddie Stone, Freelance Science Journalist: The current situation is that large swathes of the west – essentially all of California, Oregon, Nevada and Utah, and a few other states – are currently in a state of drought.

Kathryn Reed, Correspondent, North Bay Business Journal: It is really difficult to find a business that is not affected.

Brad Howard CNBC producer: Then, when the water runs out, the economy feels the effect.

Morgan Levy, Assistant Professor, University of California, San Diego: Agriculture consumes more than 70% of the available water supply. During years of drought, agriculture will consume an even larger fraction of water reserves.

Brad Howard CNBC Producer :: Tourism, landscaping, home building and farming are just a few of the businesses that are suffering due to one of the worst droughts the West Coast has ever seen. In 2020, forest fires and drought cost US $ 21 billion. With lower water levels and higher temperatures, the risk of forest fires increases, according to the National Environmental Information Centers. In the western climatic region alone, which includes California and Nevada, wildfires caused $ 12.1 billion in damage in 2020. With the fires, political feuds and climate change, water becomes more important than ever to the US economy.

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Utah economy

Food and Water in Southern Utah Part 3 – St George News

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Vertical gardening image | Photo by Shironosov / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Note: The following is the third in a three part series of Op-Eds. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

NOTICE – I have discussed a variety of food and water aspects in previous installments of this Op-Ed series. We will now focus on how to advance agriculture and food production here. These suggestions are based, in part, on my own observations and experience working with many countries to protect and develop agricultural production, applying sound science, in a wide range of climates with varying topography and agronomy.

Despite the sobering elements contained in the previous sections, solutions do exist. We are still the masters of our destiny, so to speak. For example, Israel and Spain have faced similar challenges with water and agriculture in their drylands, and they are surprisingly successful.

My conversations with senior officials from these two countries and seeing their amazing results have been inspiring. A large number of greenhouses using drip irrigation and many other innovations are producing incredible amounts of food and other agricultural products for use in the country and for income-generating exports.

These smart applications of technology aligned with nature have also created additional income from visitors wanting to see what’s possible and participate. This is a form of “agritourism”, which is another source of income for the community. Others can learn and be inspired by what we have created.

Photographic illustration. | Photo by anjajuli, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

So let’s start with some specific ideas to consider, analyze and implement:

  • Plant fruits and vegetables that can thrive in this climate. A local horticulturalist and ethnobotanist identified 29 varieties of fruits, berries and nuts that would do very well in this climate, under good supervision. We can also grow many kinds of vegetables here. Some of them will be doing very well during our winter, which means that certain types of fresh and organic produce will be available all year round.
  • Create More Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A food system that directly connects producers and consumers to locally grown produce harvested by a certain farm or groups of farms through a subscription process. The consumer agrees to withdraw or receive deliveries on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. All concerned share the risk of harvesting. We already have a local expert who has managed a CSA in Idaho and we have a successful CSA in Cedar City. More ASCs are needed.
  • Create community gardens, using experts, including master gardeners, in soil preparation, crop selection, growing, harvesting and distribution of produce. Too often, good intentions and results don’t match when growing gardens. We can educate and train many people to use even backyards, common areas, and other limited places to successfully grow food and maintain good looks.
  • Review Utah’s agricultural production at the regional and state level to determine any adjustments that can be made to focus production more on growing Utah food for the Utahns.
  • Teach children basic horticulture and food production, with related health information. Create school gardens. Organize friendly competitions.
  • Deploy greenhouse technology that can include a laptop computer to regulate all aspects of the grow. Water, fertilization and other functions are carefully controlled for maximum effect. We can use greenhouses for food and to grow native plants for our homes and community. As our capacity for growth increases, we will no longer need to purchase factories outside of southern Utah.
  • Deploy vertical farming technology that has the potential to produce the same amount of food or more while using up to 90% less water. Vacant lots, empty buildings and newly constructed buildings are viable options for larger scale operations. Outdoor vertical gardens can also be created in virtually any space, as the examples on the Contemporist website show.
  • Watch the documentary “The Need to Grow”.
  • Create a non-political working group of carefully selected experts in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and water experts, to assess and recommend common options for producing native foods and plants, including the treatment of selected plants for curative and medicinal purposes, among other applications. Each participant will need to look beyond their individual, organizational or professional interests to make objective recommendations to city / county leaders and investors for their decision. Transparency and opportunities for public input will be essential.
  • Investigate the availability of ARPA funds to produce food for the growing number of food banks in Utah.
  • Dixie State University, which appears to be Utah Tech University, may expand its life science program to include environmental sciences (ecology, plant science, and soil science).
  • Raise awareness of our water and food situation and our available solutions by including statements and targets in all forward-looking documents such as city and county multi-year plans. These targets would be created and evaluated by the water district and carefully selected agricultural experts. Supporting these efforts would include putting sustainable and regenerative agriculture and water conservation on the agendas of cities and counties on a regular basis.

Conclusion

This series aims to promote open and constructive dialogue, analysis, and ultimately many viable recommendations to be implemented in order to be successful. Individual study by the public is encouraged, starting with the links provided. Let’s imagine and create a new type of sustainable agriculture locally. This new agricultural paradigm will result in high quality organic products, trained businesses, job creation, grocery stores and restaurants offering more attractive options, a more diverse and strengthened economy and more. This is all possible by using 50-90% less water to produce the same amount or even more food.

St. George City as seen from the Dixie Rock / Sugarloaf Formation at Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah, July 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

We are looking for visionary city and county leaders who can embrace and effectively manage the inevitable changes to come in our county, remove barriers, and find solutions and resources. These changes go well beyond infrastructure. Fortunately, my early conversations with some local leaders indicate that they are ready to listen and learn. It is a start, although in the final analysis we have to rely on the results. We are also looking for influential thought leaders, investors, vacant buildings, land, etc. We can start small and take incremental action by creating “demo farms” to show what can be created and then scale up.

We can do it. Together. It really is a win-win situation, if we have the foresight and the will to make it happen.

For comments on this letter to the editor and to learn more about growing in arid climates, visit www.ascendantagriculture.com.

Submitted by DAVID C. HATCH, Ivins. Hatch is a former person appointed by the President of the USDA as associate administrator of the US multi-billion dollar crop and livestock insurance program. He is also a hemispheric expert on agricultural risk management and has consulted widely with virtually every country in the hemisphere, including ambassadors, ministers, scientists, the US State Department and the World Bank to create a science-based agricultural policy for small and medium-sized enterprises. farmers, including women. Prior to his service in the public sector, Hatch was an entrepreneur and executive in global risk management. Hatch would like to thank Tony McCammon of Bloom Horticulture for his contribution to this series.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or contributors. The elements stated and the opinions expressed are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are edited only slightly for technical style and formatting.

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Utah economy

The Utah Way from our pioneer roots and beyond

Utah is where we find the right balance between individual responsibility and a sense of community.

A couple rides a float with a handcart during the Pioneer Day Parade Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Salt Lake City. Pioneer Day is a beloved Utah-only party every July 24 that includes parades, rodeos, fireworks and more. It marks the date of 1847 when Brigham Young and other Mormon pioneers, many of whom pulled handcarts, ended their treacherous journey across the country from Illinois and discovered the Salt Lake Valley. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)

July in Utah is something special. Like the rest of the nation, we stop to celebrate our independence and the blessings that come from living in a free society dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In addition, three weeks later, we are celebrating our state’s rich history and the legacy left by those first settlers who arrived in the Salt Lake City Valley in 1847. I hope all Utans see Pioneer Day as an annual reminder of the solid foundation laid by those who came before us and our responsibility continues to inspire us today.

Much like the pioneers of yesteryear, people now flock to our state. Utah is the fastest growing state in the country, a trend accelerated by advancements in technology and a pandemic that has shown how productive the workforce can be from any location with one connection. Fast Wi-Fi. Many people who lived in other parts of the country now realize that if they can live anywhere, the Beehive State is a great choice.

It’s easy to see what draws people to Utah. Our natural beauty is unmatched. Businesses and talent are drawn to low taxes and a philosophy of governance cultivated to support prosperity for all. We offer the highest degree of upward economic mobility, the most diverse economy and the lowest unemployment rate. We are among the healthiest and happiest people in the country. The list goes on and on, but the people who live here know that what makes Utah special isn’t fully captured by any list or ranking.

Utah is a place where we find the right balance between individual responsibility and a sense of community. It’s a place where neighbors get to know each other and look out for each other. As the rest of the country has become more insular, the Utahns have generally done a good job welcoming newcomers and helping them be a part of our community.

Many new Utahns are surprised to find that some of what they expected to find here is more stereotypes than substance. Without a doubt, we are a conservative state rooted in principles of fiscal prudence, personal responsibility and family support; we do our best to look out for each other as well. We probably don’t have enough credit to be the conservative state that crafted the Utah Immigration Pact. We have shown the nation that inclusion is not a win-win situation by supporting the LGBTQ + community while protecting religious freedom. And we enthusiastically welcome and support refugees looking to start a new life. Community-driven conservatism is alive and well in Utah and we thrive on it.

More and more, I hear elected leaders in other states refer to the “Utah Way” as a guide to getting it right. I think it’s because we understand that politics is not a game and that public policy is about doing things right for people. We understand that smart policy making is never over.

Building bridges, gaining trust and acting in the best interests of the people of the state have become fundamental parts of our policy making process. As our pioneer ancestors knew, we cannot survive or prosper alone; we are in the same boat and everyone has a role to play.

To all who come to Utah, like the Pioneers 174 years ago, we welcome you to our community and ask you to remember why you left your home to make it a new one here. Reasonable taxes, limited government involvement, a willingness to learn from each other and work together and be an active part of the community in one way or another. Everything is at the heart of the Utah Way.

As we celebrate our pioneering legacy together this week, renew our commitment to honor the sacrifices of those who have come before us by building on the strong foundations they have laid and improving Utah’s enviable quality of life.

Brad Wilson is the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives

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Utah economy

Representative Buck is Co-Founder of New Anti-Big Tech Caucus

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from the 4th Congressional District of Colorado, and Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) announced on Thursday the creation of the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus.

According to a press Release by Buck, big tech companies “rig the free market, crush competitors, stifle innovation, draw closer to China, and censor Americans.” Big tech companies are operating in an “America last” mindset that has hurt consumers and small businesses across the country while benefiting China and strengthening their gatekeeper power. “

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The press release says the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus will promote competition and innovation, restore the free digital economy, protect children from harmful online content, protect online privacy and data, end the political censorship and thwart Big Tech’s “court” towards the Chinese. Communist Party.

Buck is the leading member of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which published a 450-page article report last year on its Big Tech investigation. The report declared that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google had abused their power as monopolies, and he recommended changes to current antitrust laws. Representative Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, is also a member of the committee. Despite different political affiliations, Neguse and Buck have found common ground when it comes to Big Tech: Both representatives believe Congress must take action to limit the power of Big Tech.

Last month, the House Judiciary Committee approved “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation and Choice,” a package of bills aimed at reducing the power of Big Tech. According to The Washington Post, a bill would prevent tech giants from buying growing competitors, a bill would prohibit large tech companies from giving preference to their own products over the products or services of competing companies, and a bill would make it easier for consumers to use the products of different technology companies together. Buck was an original co-sponsor on all bills in the package.

Democratic representatives are primarily concerned about the market power of Big Tech companies, while many Republican representatives are concerned about what they perceive to be anti-conservative bias in Big Tech.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) criticized the Big Tech package, saying the bills won’t do enough to stop Big Tech from censoring conservative voices. In an opinion piece, Jordan wrote, “Make no mistake, Big Tech is trying to get conservatives and needs to be brought under control. But these bills do nothing to combat anti-conservative biases and Big Tech censorship. These Democratic bills will only make matters worse. If you think Big Tech is bad now, wait until Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are colluding with Big Government.

During the debate on these bills, Buck appeared to attempt to appeal directly to Republicans such as Jordan, declaring, “These bills are conservative,” in his opening statement.

Buck also shares Jordan’s belief that Big Tech is censoring conservative voices. On June 2, Buck tweeted that “Facebook censors conservative voices, but they allow Communist China to mock and disseminate genocidal propaganda,” in connection with an article from the Media Research Center, a conservative content analysis group that described himself as “a liberal media watchdog”.

It’s unclear when the bills will go to a full vote in the House of Representatives, according to to Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Majority Leader and responsible for scheduling House votes.

Gooden, who will serve as the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus co-chair, said the caucus will help prevent what he sees as the exclusion of conservative views. “Big Tech has complete control over the digital public square, ensuring that Americans only see news and information that matches their narrative, which often excludes conservative views,” Gooden said.

Representative Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.), who is vice-chair of the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus, said in a declaration Friday: “For too long, Big-Tech has abused its powers and targeted the constitutional rights of American citizens. The high-tech oligarchs, who silence freedom-loving patriots, have no place in the land of the free. In America, we must always place constitutional values ​​on authoritarian control. “

Other members of the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus include Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona).

Big Tech generally refers to big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Some Big Tech definitions also include Microsoft, but the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee’s Investigation Report on Digital Markets Competition focused on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

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Utah economy

Representative Harrison distorts Senator Lee and his laws on public lands

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senator Mike Lee speaks with delegates attending the 2021 Utah Republican Party organizing convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021, as ‘They are returning to an in-person format after the pandemic forced the naming convention to go live last year.

In her editorial on public lands, Salt Lake County Democrat Suzanne Harrison distorts both Senator Lee and his laws on public lands. As an elected official who lives, works and serves the Utahns in a rural area, I am disappointed to see another elected official not only denigrate our US Senator, but distort his legislation, the Protect Utah’s Rural Economy Act.

Representative Harrison’s worn talking points generated by the east coast on public lands are not moot to me. They are real. I have seen, with my own eyes, how the abuse of the Antiquities Law by former presidents has reduced the budgets of our cities and counties, putting enormous stress on our local communities. Almost always, this stress is the result of presidential action occurring without ever consulting those who would be most directly affected by the action.

Utah not only has amazing historical artifacts that we all want to preserve, it is full of amazing scenery. Surely no one wants these landscapes more protected than those of us who live both in and beside these beautiful lands. However, the former presidents closed millions of acres of land – far beyond what the law had ever intended to do – on the simple “recommendation” of interest groups and unelected bureaucrats living in the thousands of people. kilometers away. These lands may be their occasional playground, but they are also our home. Senator Lee understands this, which is why his legislation would require the federal government to simply work with locally elected officials as part of this process. As a local elected official herself, I think Representative Harrison would support a process that solicits input from local elected officials, rather than denigrating our US Senator for creating such a process.

Darin Bushman, Piute County Commissioner, Junction

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Utah economy

One of Utah’s most unique natural treasures is disappearing


The Great Salt Lake is also known as the American Dead Sea – due to its resemblance to its much smaller Middle Eastern counterpart – but scientists fear the nickname will soon take on new meaning.

Human consumption and diversion of water has long depleted Lake Utah. His level today is a few inches from a low of 58, state officials say, and Drought conditions in the west fueled by the climate crisis have exacerbated conditions.

The worst part? It’s only july, and the lake historically does not reach its annual minimum until October.

“I’ve never seen it so bad – not in my lifetime,” said Andy Wallace, hovering over the water in a propeller plane, as he did for years as a pilot. professional.

Simply put, the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere is shrinking rapidly. Left alone, the lake’s footprint would stretch over 2,100 square miles, more than three times the area of ​​Houston. An analysis released last year showed that water siphoned from the rivers that feed the natural wonder had reduced its level by 11 feet, depleting the lake’s area by more than half.

“Twenty years ago it was under about 10 feet of water,” said Kevin Perry, chairman of the atmospheric science department at the University of Utah, as he rode his bike in July on the dry lake bed.

Dying organisms and arsenic

Perry and other scientists fear they are witnessing a slow-motion disaster. Ten million birds flock to the Great Salt Lake every year to feed on its now struggling marine life. More pelicans breed here than anywhere else in the country.

The problem goes up the food chain. The Utah Geological Survey openly expressed concern on Thursday that the falling lake levels threaten to kill microbials – reef-like underwater mounds that help feed the brine flies, brine shrimp and hence the 338 species of birds that visit each year.

“We consider these structures to be living rocks,” said Michael Vanden Berg, head of the investigation’s energy and mineral program. “The population of the Great Salt Lake is one of the largest accumulations of modern microbials in the world.”

If the lake continues to retreat to historic levels, a hitherto unseen proportion of the lake’s microbials will be exposed, according to a press release. It may only take weeks for the microbial mat to erode from “living rocks,” he said, and it could take years to recover, even if lake levels return to normal.

Brine shrimp, also known as sea monkeys, also struggle with the increasing salinity that comes with less water. It’s not just bird food. They are exported as fish food, and the commercial harvest contributes to an estimated $ 1.5 billion in savings – which, along with recreation and mineral extraction, helps feed the fishermen and others living around the Great Lake. Dirty.

The economic downturn is not the only threat to humans in the region. Utah’s soil is naturally high in arsenic, a toxic compound that causes a frightening range of health problems. When it washes downstream, it lands in the lake, Perry said. When the wind blows, as it regularly does quite violently, it lifts the dusty bed of the lake.

“One of our concerns is that the particles that come out of the lake get into people’s lungs,” he said. “Fifteen to twenty years ago, when the lake was higher, most of those dust spots were covered, and if you cover them with water, they don’t produce dust. And so as the lake receded, it’s more and more exposed more of that lake bed. … As we get more area, we have more frequent dust storms. “

Owens Lake, a mostly dry lake east of California’s Sequoia National Forest, was diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct nearly a century ago, Perry noted. Although a little water returns to the lake, its dry bed is the biggest source of PM-10 pollution – large inhalable dust particles – in the country. Great Salt Lake is much larger than Owens Lake, and while the population around Owens Lake is approximately 40,000, there are over 2 million people living around Great Salt Lake, Perry points out.

“This lake could also become one of the largest sources of dust emissions in North America,” he said. “Right now the lake bed is protected by a fragile crust, and if that crust is disturbed or eroded over time, then this lake could start to emit a lot more (dust).”

“We are on the verge of a catastrophe”

Vast swathes of Lake Utah look more like Death Valley than any waterway, with the ground arid and fractured by dry heat. Other areas look like sprawling puddles. Birds wade through the mud of the shore alongside empty marinas, their holds sagging to the ground.

“The saltiest sailors on the planet have seen their sailboats hoisted out of the marinas of the Great Salt Lake by a crane in recent days, due to the drop in the level of the lake”, the Utah Rivers Board wrote in the introduction of a report warning that a proposed dam, pipeline and reservoir in the east will only exacerbate the problems.

While human behavior remains the primary concern of scientists, the lack of rain in the west does not help. The Great Salt Lake is now like water on a plate, while most lakes look like a cup, said Jaimi Butler, co-editor of the 2020 analysis showing that the lake’s area has shrunk by 51% .

Shallow waters are more prone to evaporation in drought conditions, and although the lake level fluctuates in any given year, the lake tends to bottom out in the fall, around October. The lake will continue to drop and shrink over the next three months, and the water level could drop as much as 2 more feet by Halloween, Butler suspects.

“Keeping water in the Great Salt Lake is the most important thing that keeps me awake at night,” said Butler, a wildlife biologist who grew up around the lake and who is the coordinator of the Great Salt Lake Institute of Canada. Westminster College. “We are on the brink of disaster.”

Mother Nature and the inhabitants must join forces

Butler cried as he thought of the ramifications of not taking strong action to save the waterway.

“The Great Salt Lake will be an environmental, economic and, really, cultural disaster at the same time,” she said. “I grew up here. A place becomes you.… We are all from Great Salt Lake. We all are, and we shouldn’t let it go.”

Humans created the problem, and humans will have to be part of the solution, she said. Reducing water use and increasing water utility tariffs to deter waste would be a start, she added.

Despite warning bells, water destined for Great Salt Lake continues to be diverted to farms, ranches and towns – the latter enjoying some of the cheapest water in the country, Butler said.

Salt Lake City residents paid one of the lowest water rates in major US cities, according to an analysis by Circle of Blue, a nonprofit organization that advocates for responsible management of water resources. A family of four using 100 gallons per day paid $ 32 per month in 2018, about half of what New Yorkers paid, one-third of what Atlanteans paid, and a quarter of what San Franciscans paid that year. Among the larger cities, only the people of Memphis paid less.

But it appears residents around the Great Salt Lake have acted more conscientiously, said Marcie McCartney, water conservation and education manager for the Utah Water Resources Division.

“Everyone around and in this basin is doing everything they can to use the water as efficiently as possible,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of (water) savings this year, which is great, but the Great Salt Lake is definitely suffering, and the only way to increase the level of these lakes is a better year of water for our mantle. snowy.”

Those responsible for monitoring snow runoff in streams and reservoirs must calculate the amount of water needed for water supplies – potable, agricultural, etc. – and the rest can be dumped downstream into the Great Salt Lake, McCartney said. This year’s “poor snowpack” has melted too quickly, she said, “and the ground is really thirsty.”

“Mother Nature is going to take her share first, and we’ll have the rest,” she said.

In November, Butler co-wrote an obituary for Great Salt Lake in Catalyst Magazine, based in the Utah capital.

“The Great Salt Lake experienced its last sparkling sunset today, succumbing to a long struggle with chronic diversions exacerbated by climate change,” he began. “Its dusty remains will be scattered throughout the Salt Lake Valley for millennia – our air quality monitors will constantly remind us of its passage.”

The article laid out the history of the reservoir, how it ended up in dire straits, and what the affected Utahans can do to change the narrative and amplify their voices to save the beloved body of water.

“There were measures to prevent the death of the Great Salt Lake, but it was too little, too late,” the obituary read. “She has supported Utah’s economy for many years, but we haven’t adequately funded her health care on time. If we had, we might not be mourning her death today. ‘hui. “

Speaking to CNN, Butler reiterated many of those points, imploring, “We have changed our world and we need to change our behaviors to conserve incredible ecosystems that include humans like here in Great Salt Lake.”

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Utah economy

Where do all these people come from when they move to Utah?

Vinay Cardwell, president of Young Professionals Salt Lake City, poses for a portrait at The Shop co-working space in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Young, educated and diverse, newcomers are helping to change the face of Utah as they come largely from other western states.

About 133,000 people – the equivalent of more than half of Salt Lake City’s population – moved to Beehive state from 2014 to 2018, according to a new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

California contributed the most new faces, at about 18,000 – or 16.6% – the most of any state, followed by Texas at 7.2%; Idaho at 6.6% and Washington State at 5.3%. But the Golden State also received more people from Utah during the same period than anywhere else.

Where they moved from
Where they moved from (Photo: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

Demographer Emily Harris said her findings help answer questions about migration that have arisen in recent years as newcomers further fuel the state’s growth.

“We know Utah is growing. We can feel it on the roads, we can feel it on the trails,” Harris said. “But who are these people and what is that impact on Utah, other than more people?”

Analyzing census data, Harris found that those who moved here within the five-year period tend to be younger than those already here, with a median age of 25. They were also more diverse and more likely to have a bachelor’s degree.

Education levels vary
Education levels vary (Photo: Kem C. Garder Policy Institute)

Many end up rooting and raising their children in their own traditions, resulting in cumulative cultural change over time, Harris noted.

Among them, Vinay Cardwell, 42, from Vancouver, Canada, who attended the University of Utah, found work in the state’s growing tech sector, and started a family in the state. Beehive State. Her son and daughter are now 5 and 8 years old.

Cardwell, president of Young Professionals Salt Lake City, says he wants job seekers to know they can still feel at home in Utah if they’ve never been in the state and aren’t. not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Word is spreading, he said, as more newcomers arrive for jobs at tech startups and stay to ski, hike and take in mountain views.

“You go to New York and it’s just a concrete jungle – or Chicago. But when you can get out into the wild, it’s like, wow. You just get that rejuvenation,” he said. “This is probably one of the most important things people say when I ask them, ‘What brought you here?’ It’s skiing or the outdoors. “

Like Cardwell, whose parents are from Fiji and New Zealand, many are of mixed descent, he said.

Differences in diversity
Differences in diversity (Photo: Kem C. Garder Policy Institute)

The data doesn’t say who’s left for a little while before moving on, but Cardwell says many do after gaining a few years of work experience and taking advantage of the state’s vast outdoor recreation opportunities.

The rise in migration to the state after the Great Recession is linked to a strong economy and low unemployment, Harris said, and is playing a bigger role in Utah’s growth as families have less children and wait longer to do so, she added.

Jobs invite newcomers
Jobs invite newcomers (Photo: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

In what may come as a surprise to some, the Beehive State is not among the top 10 destinations for Californians, Harris noted. Almost three times as many people have moved to neighboring Nevada, for example.

Where the Utahns move
Where the Utahns travel (Photo: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

She found that fewer Utahns leave than they come – around 95,000 left in the same period, although the data does not reveal how many more went overseas. Their median age was 27, compared to 31 for the Utahns who stayed behind during the same period. Those who leave also tend to have a bachelor’s degree and higher degrees at higher rates.

The influx of newcomers, combined with the housing crisis in Utah, threatens to strain the rental and home buying markets and hamper Utah’s ability to attract workers out of state in the future, the report notes.

Who rents and who owns a house?
Who rents and who owns a house? (Photo: Kem C. Garder Policy Institute)

“When we have more migrants coming in than people leaving, it’s an even bigger hole that we dig ourselves into in terms of housing inventory for people who want to live here,” Harris said.

Not everyone who comes to Utah is an outsider. About 1 in 4 are native Utahns who have moved away for a while and are now coming home.

They’re like Steven O’Donnell, a 28-year-old father and real estate agent who lived in Albuquerque, San Diego, and Las Vegas before returning to Utah in 2019. The timeline for his move has accelerated after his move. dad. fell ill with cancer, succumbing to the disease about a month before the birth of O’Donnell’s baby girl.

The girl babbled this week as O’Donnell said he hit the road as a kid with his truck driver dad. He realized in his youth that he preferred the mountains and vast canyons of Utah to the scenery of any other state, he said.

“For my parents in Santaquin, there are three canyons in about 10 minutes,” he said. “I think Utah is just a hidden gem.”

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