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Water Realities 

Dry Counties, Who's Oppressing Whom?, About That Anthrax

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Water Realities
There are some areas in which California's example is not always the best to follow—but conservation isn't one. Water districts there have to meet conservation targets or risk fines—and on the whole, the Golden State has voluntarily cut back water consumption by up to 31 percent since 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times. But here in Utah, all eyes are on a $1 billion Lake Powell Pipeline project. Utah officials submitted a preliminary licensing proposal to the feds, reports the Deseret News, bringing a projected 2025 completion date closer to reality. Still, the Utah Rivers Council and 21 economists rightly object. They've pleaded with Gov. Gary Herbert and legislators to reconsider incurring debt for a project whose price tag continues to increasing. The water is designated for use in the thirsty Kane and Washington counties, which are expected to undergo a population boom. But, in an arid state like Utah, shouldn't conservation be the top priority?


Religious Oppression
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, representing the Utah theocracy, says states can and should establish official religions. It's all right there in the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights, he notes. Those who interpret the clause as erecting a "high wall" of separation—such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black did—suffer from a "left-wing world view." Hatch argues instead that not only individual, but also states and municipalities have the right to establish religion. "Indeed, as a Mormon, I'm keenly aware both of how the machinery of government can be used to oppress religious minorities and of how a faith's flourishing comes not from state sanction or promotion," he told Congress, "but rather from the dedication and devotion of individuals, families and communities." Is he as keenly aware of how an established religion can also oppress?


Anthrax Exposure
Steve Erickson, who has long worked for the Downwinders and now the Citizens Education Project, knows how frustrating it is to get facts from the feds. In May, we learned that a Dugway lab shipped viable anthrax spores to labs in the United States and abroad. No one was exposed to the pathogen, but it is known that a Utah lab received some spores. Erickson wants to know which lab, and when, and what they did about it. Still more unsettling is that anthrax was found outside Dugway's containment area in September. Multiple open-records requests have so far yielded nothing, and the Utah Department of Health says it's awaiting legal review—which could take forever.

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More by Katharine Biele

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