It’s beginning to look like 2012 was one wild water year, what with drought, super storms and, of course, the Utah-Nevada battle over precious groundwater and a pipeline aimed at Las Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management gave the go-ahead to a 263-mile pipeline from rural basins near the Utah-Nevada border. While Gov. Gary Herbert scratches his ponderous skull over this, environmentalists, ranchers and even the Mormon church are just a mite concerned about creating a somewhat radioactive dustbowl as Nevada pulls 36,000 acre feet of water from beneath the Snake Valley. We can worry for the gambling capital. It uses 350 gallons of water per person per day, and could run out of drinking water in 20 years. But certainly there must be other plans for conservation protection of the fragile desert environment before Utah signs off.
OK, ’tis the season of forgiveness, but first lady Jeanette Herbert needs to get a clue. Not every crime is just a little oops. She wrote to a judge on official letterhead, asking for leniency for a convicted child pornographer. “The majority of the young people that have struggled with this problem are good kids that have gotten caught up in pornography’s addictive snares,” she wrote of Ryan Johnson, 34, who pretended to be a 16-year-old girl and got boys to send him sexually explicit photos. Michigan Law Review notes that psychological studies find strong correlation between those who possess child porn and those who become pedophiles. It’s no small matter, although Mrs. Herbert seems mostly sorry that she didn’t know it was policy not to write such letters.
Utah has been fighting this ill-conceived idea since 1996, when members of the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation signed a 25-year lease to store radioactive wastes on their land. The agreement with Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of nuclear-power-plant operators, brought dollar signs to the eyes of the Goshutes, who salivated over the $3 billion project because they needed an economic boost. But in an extraordinary cooperative effort, Utah’s congressional delegation—including former nuke-waste lobbyist Rep. Rob Bishop—fought the plan. Bishop even sponsored legislation to block the rail spur to the reservation. Now, Private Fuel Storage has withdrawn its license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There couldn’t be better news than this halt to transporting these deadly materials through the state.