A 2018 Concern
October 19, 2020*
Our environment is an essential part of our lives. The Native American Indians believe the land sacred. The Wasatch Front lies on a desert with limited water supplies and surrounded by mountains that capture air pollutants. All of us are dependent on our natural resources. We must treat it with respect.
Just in the month of June, in the space of three days, Utah experienced record 100-degree heat to a record high cold temperature of 42, "From 100-degree heat to record cold: Howling winds bring sudden seasonal reversal in West, High Plains," The Washington Post (June 9, 2020). Our climate is changing whether because of humans or nature for the worse. Farmers depend on a somewhat reliable weather pattern to plant and harvest their farmlands. Animals and hunters, even golfers, and skiers, and the outdoor tourist industry rely on some weather expectations to function at their best. Utah policy as to our weather needs to continue to be on the forefront of science and provide farmers, outdoor recreation businesses, even our international airport the best tools to address these serious changes in our weather before it becomes another enemy.
Conserve our scare water resources. Utah is America’s “driest state” (“This is a Desert”, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial, July 28, 2018) or "As Colorado River Water Users Conserve, Utah Wastes More " Water Deeply (July 12, 2018) “thristiest state” because of our use of cheap untreated irrigation water for our lawns (Water Deeply, March 5, 2018) even as Utah contemplates spending billions of dollars for new water development projects. Instead of increasing our taxes and state bonding (a form of tax increase) to go towards likely unnecessary water development projects ("Why did Kane County pull out of pipeline? It just isn't that thirsty," The Salt Lake Tribune, April 24, 2020), Utah residents need to be made aware through metered water use of our super green lawns and gardens of the huge amount of water we waste. The State can help local cities and counties develop incentives to reduce water use of lawns through the increase of attractive, low‑water use gardens and green spaces.
Great Salt Lake
Two years ago, I spoke up for one of our State's greatest natural treasures, the Great Salt Lake, that continues to be threatened by human development. Now at its lowest surface level in recorded history in 2016, our $1.3 billion economic and recreational resource is being drained dry by continued suburban development that is taking away natural valuable farmland and recharging waters to the Great Salt Lake (Deseret News, May 5, 2018). The likelihood of an emerging megadrought also increases undue pressure on our environmentally sensitive important body of water, "Warming makes US West megadrought worse," Standard-Examiner (April 17, 2020). According to Maura Hahnenberger, an atmospheric scientist at Salt Lake Community College, dust storms from dry lake beds could easily become an additional pollution source to metropolitan areas such as the growing Wasatch Front which already appears to suffer from periodic can't see through air pollution. Utah needs to begin protecting this precious natural resource by balancing the destruction of agricultural land and along with it our great lake with the growing need for human habitation. Our Legislative House District #13 appears to occupy an important geographic position in the defense of our precious aqueous treasure. As a State House Representative, I will fight for our close "water" neighbor (a great salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere )(Wikipedia). Two years later with little action having been taken by our State Legislature, the words of warning have only become louder and more pronounced "A shrinking Great Salt Lake and how 12 strategies may save its future," The Deseret News, August 29, 2020; "Tribune Editorial: No Lake City," The Salt Lake Tribune, August 30, 2020. It's past time for talking, House District 13 deserves a state representative who will take action on protecting one of Utah's greatest treasures and our close environmental neighbor.
HILL AIR FORCE BASE ITSELF MUST BE PROTECTED
Hill Air Force Base by one account according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, may be among those bases at the highest risk of impacts from climate change. "Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense," Department of Defense (January 10, 2019). Our state representative must continue to be sensitive to our environment and its impact on our major defense employer.
Increase the use of wind and solar energy
Wyoming generates 1,489 megawatts of electricity through wind towers meeting the needs of 244,196 homes while Utah only generates 391 megawatts. Utah needs more wind towers. The State Legislature needs to re-examine high utility company charges for solar-powered homes and reduce excessive utility charges.
*What Utah doesn't need are huge solar farms taking over our precious uncultivated land, "Big solar farms could dominate the future of a Utah hamlet trying to preserve its small-town feel," The Salt Lake Tribune, October 19, 2020). Instead, Utah needs to provide incentives (like the State continues offering tax subsidies to big business) and allow individual residents the freedom to choose whether or not to invest in and benefit from solar power for their own homes.
Utah needs to continue to increase support for Governor Herbert’s electric vehicle-charging infrastructure to clean up our air. More research and tax incentives are needed to promote alternative energy projects and jobs that don’t create poisonous waste and that eventually give back to consumers instead of allowing China to take over our market (Mother Jones, July/August 2018). Our grandchildren’s energy needs will come from alternative energy sources; and we must begin to transition now for their benefit.
Preserve our dwindling natural environment
Utah needs to continue working with organizations such as Nature Conservancy to retain voluntary cooperation to buy and protect our natural wilderness for both its majestic beauty and its economic value in bringing millions of dollars of tourists’ money to Utah.
Our Great Salt Lake
Increase non-renewable resource severance taxes
The dinosaurs didn’t die and leave a will mandating that only corporations profit from their deaths. Oil, gas, and other non-renewable energy are precious commodities that all of us should benefit from. By increasing the tax on these one-time energy sources, both industry and the public can be assured of benefits that were left in the ground hundreds of millions of years ago. We can no longer exploit our diminishing resources without considering future generations. We must re-invest funds into new ways to develop renewable energy sources so that our children and grandchildren will have adequate energy supplies to continue living after we are gone.
Cleaning our Environment Through Farming
Through Regenerative Farming some of our struggling Utah farmers can increase their chances for survival through reduced farming expenses while at the same time transforming out farmland into soil that can capture even more of the environmentally toxic carbon dioxide polluting our atmosphere and instead turning it into organic carbons in the ground. "Field of Dreams," Mother Jones (May/June 2020).