Just as Salt Lake City was celebrating its third-annual Solar Day, clean-air advocates got serious about their message. Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit to stop the already-approved expansion of the Holly Refinery in Bountiful. The Utah Division of Air Quality insists that doubling production won’t increase pollution, and oh, by the way, they’re working on “plans” to keep the air clean. Brian Moench of UPHE editorialized in the Deseret News that the near-forgotten Stericycle medical-waste incinerator should shut down after falsifying records and spewing pollutants. Besides, he said, “Pollution from the five oil refineries, I-15, Legacy Parkway, nearby Hill Air Force Base and numerous smaller industries all converge on the area.” The Salt Lake Tribune then ran a story about dust pollution from Geneva Rock, which continues to dig into the mountain. It was a week of heavy breathing on the Wasatch Front.
Here’s one for state’s rights that’s not your standard anti-fed fare. The Utah Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a woman who lost her home to foreclosure by ReconTrust, a national bank working with the Federal National Mortgage Association. Loraine Sundquist got a loan on her home in 2006, defaulted in 2009 and, in June 2011, was told to get out. She wasn’t alone, since Utah was in the top 10 states for foreclosures during the mortgage crisis. RealtyTrac counted more than 2.3 million homes repossessed by lenders since the recession began in December 2007. “A national bank seeking to foreclose real property in Utah must comply with Utah law,” Utah’s high court said. That means that any repossession must be done by Utah State Bar members or title companies in Utah.
Long ago, Congress was a place of thoughtful, if spirited, debate. Now, the very mention of debate falls flat. That’s what happened to Sen. Orrin Hatch and his Democratic buddy Max Baucus when they suggested trying to reform the nation’s tax system. You’d think they were talking about Obamacare. Matt Canham of The Salt Lake Tribune said Senate colleagues saw it as a “political minefield.” You know, something that might cost them votes, and that, seemingly, is what public office is all about. Neither Hatch nor Baucus is running for re-election, so they have nothing to lose. Too bad they couldn’t have been more statesman-like before this and used their considerable clout to move legislation.