As Utah goes wild with its love of coal and extractive industries in general, the rest of the world is laying claim to renewables. "Actual solar electricity production in the United States is 50 percent higher than previous estimates," a Scientific American article says. And a Deseret News article quotes the governor's Office of Energy Development, saying Utah will see billions of dollars in new solar investments over the next 18 months. Wind, solar and biofuels are growing 5 percent every year. Sadly for air quality, biofuels and wood still remain a huge portion of the energy mix. Biomass electricity is heavily subsidized as a "green" alternative—but it pollutes more than coal does, according to a study by the Partnership for Policy Integrity. HEAL Utah believes Utah can generate all its electricity needs with renewables by 2050. The state should make this a priority.
Losing the Green
Salt Lake City's growing anxiety over population growth must be clouding its vision for the future. Where's the green space in downtown Salt Lake City? If you've driven downtown recently, you can see apartments rising on just about every available piece of land. This, according to a July 5 Salt Lake Tribune article, is at the expense of open, green space. Professor and urban planner Stephen Goldsmith notes development in Sugar House, with its emphasis on community plazas, has been positive, but downtown doesn't have much to offer. Transit development calls for more and more high-rises, and developers seem to push the envelope, bringing buildings close to the street. The city needs to see that people need friendly open space as well as multiple-unit housing.
The Tippling Point
Here's a toast to Gov. Gary Herbert, who's hired an out-of-state consultant to help with a 90-day review of state liquor-store operations. This comes on the heels of complaints from customers and former employees who were perplexed by cutbacks and a computerized ordering system that limits stock. Utah Sen. Karen Mayne, D-Salt Lake City, is moving ahead with legislation to address the problems. Meanwhile, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission released numbers showing a 7.6 percent jump in purchases of alcoholic beverages. The powers that be see this only as an increase in drunks, rather than casual drinkers who make up the majority. Despite market growth, the Legislature cut DABC's budget by $500,000.