nPlugging Arches and Canyonlands full of holes for oil and gas rigs will have to wait. A federal judge foiled the Bush administrations last-minute auction of Utah’s redrock country by postponing the sales while he considers environmentalist arguments for additional study. The move should keep the drillers at bay until Bush is back in Crawford, Texas, and may give Obama a window of time in which to save the parks.
Packing in the Parks
nUndeterred, the Bush administration kept handing out parting gifts to friends, including an 11th-hour expansion of oil-shale leases for sale in Utah. On Jan. 9, the Bush Interior Department did a favor for the NRA by overturning a Reagan-era ban on concealed weapons in national parks. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, an early proponent of guns in the parks as a crime deterrent wrote, “allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns will help us take back our National Parks.” From the bears, presumably.
nFor the first time in history the Utah Legislature honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day by staying home. The start of the annual legislative session was delayed by one week, until after the King holiday, by a constitutional amendment passed last year. The move comes 25 years after King Day was created as a national holiday and eight years after Utah’s Legislature added King’s name to the holiday, replacing the wishy-washy “Human Rights Day.”
Unclear on the Concept
nSome Utah lawmakers decided the best way to mark King Day was to bring the nation’s most outspoken opponent of affirmative action to Utah’s airwaves. The weekend edition of Red Meat Republican Radio, hosted on K-Talk by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, was scheduled to feature an interview of Ward Connerly, famous for ending affirmative action in California universities. Meanwhile, the Utah Department of Health unveiled its first ever report on black Utah, which found Beehive State blacks experience racism at the doctor’s office. tttt