This is what happens when developers run the Legislature. Last year, a law change sneaked through that now lets any property owner with a handful of signatures form his or her own town. Builders have jumped at the opportunity, recognizing the law for the developer giveaway it is: Company towns mean never having to worry about meddlesome city planners or outraged citizens stopping you from building whatever you want. Ruby’s Inn became Bryce Canyon City in September. A Wasatch County ski-resort developer wants to create the town of Aspen, Utah. Now, the Powder Mountain ski resort near Ogden has quietly filed to become its own town out of frustration that Weber County planners didn’t quickly rubber-stamp its plans for homes, hotels and golf courses.
In the face of a threatened veto from President George W. Bush, the U.S. House has passed a mine-safety bill aimed at preventing future disasters like this summer’s cave-ins at Utah’s Crandall Canyon Mine. The bill would increase penalties for mine bosses who ignore safety rules, install technology to find trapped miners and clamp down on the dangerous “retreat mining” used at Crandall Canyon. Bush, the industry cronies he put in charge of the nation’s mine safety and, most bizarrely, Utah congressmen Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop—who voted against the new safety plan—complain there is already a 2006 law on the books to make mines safe. Tell that to the families of the six miners and three rescue workers buried this summer in Utah.
Imagine Ski Utah brochures showcasing dusty slopes melting at the height of the ski season. The notion, recently raised by a U of U climate scientist, should give pause even to Utahns who think global warming is a United Nations plot. Dust carried from dry land in the West is collecting on snow, causing snow to absorb twice as much heat as clean powder and melt. The bottom line is a shorter ski season. Utah lawmakers may not care that Las Vegas has plans to suck all the water out of Utah’s west desert, but maybe the prospect of ski-resort-ruining dust storms will get them moving. Then again, them Park City types gave a lot of money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, didn’t they?