I spent today trying to force myself to read a bunch of articles written in other media outlets because I need to get into the habit of doing that more. I focused on stories that were about or related to Moab. Yes, this is all because of NewsBot.
I came out of it just feeling… I guess a lot of things, to be honest. It’s cool to see other people paying attention to issues in Utah that matter. It makes me a little jealous when they cover a topic really well and make me feel like I can’t do that.
Specifically, Zak Podmore’s story (linked below) about campaign contributions preceding a provision benefiting in last year’s first COVID-19 releif package made me feel things. The dude wrote a lengthy piece and clearly pored over donation data for a long time.
I can’t spend more than five minutes working on a story before I feel like I’ve spent too long on it. I fucking hate that.
Anyway, I only ended up reading a handful of articles because it was just so taxing to emotionally process what I was reading. I’ll get over it and figure out how to read all of this stuff without just getting angry.
For now, I am frustrated with being one of 2 reporters at The T-I, covering stories affecting a permanent population of 10,000, a visiting population of 3 million, and a potential audience of even more. God I need to get on that pitch to go nonprofit.
In other news (outlets)
Deseret News: State senators argue over which ‘tyrant’ should rule on property rights for short-term rentals
Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan is quoted in this story. Also, the bill in question is sponsored by State Sen. Jake Anderegg, a Republican from Lehi, who spoke on behalf of Sen. Mike McKell, a Republican from Spanish Fork, about McKell’s OHV bill, which he was running on behalf of Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus.
“Now, I get it. If I’m having off-site impacts, where I’m affecting other people, that’s one thing. But wherein I might be the owner-occupied, in my home, and I want to rent out a room in my basement, why shouldn’t I be able to?” he asked members of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee in Monday’s hearing.
Very clear speaking. Good job, Sen. Anderegg.
“(Anderegg’s) bill assumes owner-occupied is actually easy to find and that’s the big problem. We have not been able, in Salt Lake City at least, been able to assure owner-occupied,” he said.
Chapman explained that a home in Salt Lake City was discovered to be solely filled through Airbnb rentals when someone was filing paperwork for building an accessory dwelling unit. He said cities rely on property owners to operate their short-term rentals on the honor system, causing the city the problem of enforcement.
KUER: Critics Say Bill To Define How State Spends Mineral Leasing Money Could Benefit Energy Industry
But the bill conflicts with federal law, according to Wendy Park, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. She said the federal mineral leasing act requires that drilling and mining revenues generated on federal public lands must be spent on projects that offset the impacts of extraction.
Park said Winterton’s bill also includes language that attempts to negate the lawsuit by explicitly stating that the provisions in the bill apply to ongoing claims in court.
The Salt Lake Tribune: Campaign contributions, including from a Utah operator, preceded creation of federal uranium stockpile
Reading this headline made me think “Well, duh.” Fortunately, there is more to stories than headlines.
This feels like the pork barrel spending that some people don’t like Congress doing but I feel is fine because it promotes Congressional action. It also feels implicitly like an attack on the uranium industry but I think is better seen as a money in politics thing. And like a congressional dysfunction story.
The funding was tucked into the massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill under a section titled “National Nuclear Security Administration” and subtitled “weapons activities.” But earlier discussions of the uranium reserve program in Congress and from the industry indicated the stockpiled material would be used in power plants, not nuclear weapons.
Don’t put funding and regulation related to uranium under a “weapons” title. That is dumb.
But, do prop up the uranium industry!
“We hope that the strategic uranium reserve will get a second look because we’re not sure it’s anything more than a handout to the uranium industry and specifically to Energy Fuels,” said Amber Reimondo, energy director for the Grand Canyon Trust, adding that tribal governments whose citizens might be impacted by new uranium mining should be included in those discussions.
… Uh, what I meant is: Prop up the uranium industry by gaining the political support of affected constituencies like tribal citizens!
In recent years, U.S. power plants have imported more than 90% of their fuel from abroad, including from Russia and Kazakhstan, which according to Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy posed a national security risk.
I don’t know about national security risk, but energy independence seems like a fine idea. Uranium does involve mining, so maybe an assertion that it constitutes clean energy is somewhat false, but I wouldn’t be able to say either way without being more of an expert.
The report noted that Department of Energy officials believe the fund will keep domestic uranium companies “commercially viable” through direct support “of at least two U.S. uranium mines.” The military would receive an “ancillary benefit” from the program, the report added.
Okay, I am starting to feel more and more like promoting nuclear energy really means enabling nuclear warfare.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., a steadfast supporter of the uranium industry, received $1,500 from Energy Fuels executives two days after he made dubious claims at a congressional hearing that uranium mining improves water quality.
Nuclear power supplies about 20% of the electricity consumed in the United States and the majority of carbon-free electricity. And unlike wind and solar power, it is capable of providing a consistent, round-the-clock source of power.
But campaign contributions from uranium executives have funded the campaigns of climate change skeptics in Congress. Barrasso opposed the Obama administration decision to sign onto the Paris climate agreement in 2016, and as recently as 2019, he declined to concede human use of fossil fuels is the leading cause of climate change in an interview with the Washington Examiner.
Is this clever politicking by Energy Fuels? To exploit a hapless politician pushing false claims about climate change? Is it cynical? Is it both? Does it matter?
Moore said the contributions skewed heavily toward the GOP because Republicans are most likely to represent districts where the company has uranium operations, and noted that several Democrats have also received donations. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, for example — a conservative Democrat who last year fended off a high-profile primary challenge from left-wing immigration attorney and climate activist Jessica Cisneros — received $1,000 from an Energy Fuels executive during the primary.
“We’re not going to meet anybody’s climate goals without nuclear and without uranium,” Moore said. “But ultimately we mine uranium, so we have to support the candidates that support our mining activities. So whether or not they agree with us on climate goals, I don’t think is particularly relevant.”
Measured on a July-June fiscal calendar, Utah’s state parks set a record with 7.4 million visitors, up over 10% from the previous year. The state’s most popular site destination was Dead Horse Point, which saw nearly 1 million visitors and experienced a massive jump over 2018, adding some 206,000 to its visit total.
On the other side of the coin, visitation to Dead Horse State Park was below 800,000 in 2020, according to a report from KSL. The state park system saw more visitation than the national parks that year for the first time (presumably) ever.
I’m starting to feel like reading Deseret News makes me dumber.