Environmental 'Protection' | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Environmental 'Protection' 

The "enemy of the people" saves the day, shifting the development discussion and maybe it would be better if we just made the damn cake.

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Know Your Enemy
Once again, the "enemy of the people" has come to the rescue. Or at least, the people now know who the real enemy is. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Politico found a trove of emails—not Hillary's—that point to some interesting synergies between Gov. Gary Herbert, Republican lawmakers and the now-ironic Environmental "Protection Agency." The emails were about the air and its increasing toxicity, which doesn't appear to worry the EPA. Pollution was creeping over tribal lands in the Uinta Basin, but lobbyists were persuading the governor and GOP legislators that oil-and-gas production was more important than lung capacity. KUER 90.1 FM called out the governor for nearly identical language to that of the oil-and-gas lobbyists. Regulations are such a burden in a state whose motto is business first, second and always.

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Hope Not High-Rises
You know how Utah loves its growth—babies, jobs, companies, buildings. "For growth to be good, it must be guided by great leaders who represent our shared values," wrote Natalie Gochnour, ever the state's optimist-apologist, in the Deseret News. As rents and housing prices skyrocket, cities continue building just about everywhere. A recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics pollshowed 49 percent believe the construction is a positive, which seems good until you look at the historical data. Back in 1991, 85 percent of Utah voters loved the growth scenario. Gochnour thinks Utahns are feeling a sense of loss, and need to get over it. She loves all the summits and meetings about our future. It's a lot of talk with an occasional line drive. But the talk needs to morph into an environmental plan where people can see hope instead of high-rises.

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Religious Cudgel
Predictably, the Deseret News has embarked upon a series of articles about religious freedom in the United States. Google religious freedom just to see the questions people ask about it. The most recent article calculates the numbers of religious-freedom bills around the country, and includes contraception and LGBTQ rights. If these are religious considerations, they should be just that—and not the subject of laws that somehow presume the United States is a Christian nation. The Smithsonian bares the lie: "From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America's shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the 'heretic' and the 'unbeliever.'" Maybe it would be better if we just didn't patronize bigots or made the damned cake. But in America, religion isn't personal; it's a cudgel.

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