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Legislative Life Support 

Playing Both Sides & Shrinking Newsprint

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Legislative Life Support
Deseret News hit on perhaps the most dire issue facing Utah—its dying extractive industries. Amy Joi O'Donoghue's front-page story talked about the misery in Uintah and Duchesne counties and how more than 3,000 nonfarm jobs have been lost in the past year. People in the oil-and-gas industry are suffering, despite the Wasatch Front just busting with jobs in a bright economy. Then along comes the Legislature with Senate Bill 246, proposing to invest $53 million in mineral lease revenue so that Utah can access a port in Oakland, Calif. You know, to send coal back and forth. Oh, and not to forget Senate Bill 115, the "clean coal bill," which will raise rates and transfer the risk to ratepayers without due process. Lawmakers all about saving these industries, now vegetating on life support, even as O'Donoghue pointed out the downside of dependence on them. But the Legislature is bent on heroic measures at the end of life rather than nurturing it at the beginning.

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Playing Both Sides
Meanwhile Rocky Mountain Power is working to get the best from both worlds, according to Radio West. It's going to build a 20-megawatt solar farm in Holden, and customers will be able to subscribe to solar energy without installing panels. This is actually an example of a company re-evaluating its direction for the future—for its own health and for that of its customers. But don't get us wrong. RMP still wants to hedge its bets. With Senate Bill 115, STEP legislation, RMP could ultimately kill the solar industry, solar advocates say. Isn't that ironic? RMP is also asking ratepayers to take on the risk of utility rates and likely pay more.

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Shrinking Newsprint
Speaking of dying industries, the cancer-stricken Salt Lake Tribune just announced another amputation—Tuesdays, comics and television. Depressing, isn't it? Tuesdays were just as poorly read as Mondays, so why not reduce print to just two sections? Readers balked, however, at discontinuing all TV listings, so broadcast and public stations will continue. A March article in the Nation notes, "In 2007, there were 55,000 full-time journalists at nearly 1,400 daily papers; in 2015, there were 32,900," according to the American Society of News Editors and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Florida International University. No doubt, the Deseret News is being the bully in the Trib's decline, but all newspapers are waking up too late to the seismic shift in readership. "If we find there are better choices to be made, we will implement them," was Publisher Terry Orme's sad statement.

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