Monkeywrencher Tim DeChristopher has been hit with two federal felony counts for bidding on Utah oil leases he never intended to buy. The 27-year-old says he knew he could face jail for his act of civil disobedience. But it’s fair to ask why. The legal way of doing things had already been monkeywrenched by a Bush administration that sidestepped laws so its oil buddies could acquire rights to drill in national parks. DeChristopher’s assessment was backed up by a federal judge who ruled in January that the administration broke federal law in allowing the lease auctions. And the new occupants of the White House promptly invalidated many of the leases after the election. What the Obama administration hopes to accomplish by now bringing down the hammer on monkeywrench boy, aside from boosting its standing with the Blue Dog Democrats, is hard to fathom.
Federal stimulus money— $108 million of it—is coming to Utah to speed the removal of uranium tailings from the banks of the Colorado River near Moab. It is part of $6 billion in the stimulus package for environmental cleanup across the country. The Utah money can be used right away to create jobs and should speed the once-stalled project to get the huge pile of poisons away from a primary source of drinking water for the West.
As predictions of the effect of climate change on the West show water shortages only getting worse, one Utah lawmaker thinks the best use for 30,000 acre-feet of Utah water is for nuclear power plants. Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, in his capacity as executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, has filed to transfer that much water to Emery County where his old buddy from the Legislature Aaron Tilton, now CEO of a nuclear power company, plans to build two reactors on the banks of the Green River. That same amount of water could satisfy the needs of 60,000 households for one year. And they say that nuclear energy is a cure for global warming.