Obama's Stimulus Plan, EnergySolutions & Payday Lending | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Obama's Stimulus Plan, EnergySolutions & Payday Lending 

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Stimulating Bones
Obama’s stimulus plan includes $13 million to repair and reopen a dinosaur bone showcase at Dinosaur National Monument’s Quarry Visitor Center. It’s a welcome change for dinosaur bones, which didn’t fare well in the Bush administration. (Park repair was put off while the National Parks Service was ordered to sell a visitors guide explaining that the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood.) When unstable soils closed the Dinosaur visitor’s center three years ago, it stayed closed, adding to deferred maintenance across the nation’s national parks. The stimulus plan contains $750 million for parks across the country. That includes $24 million of trail repair and maintenance for a dozen parks in Utah.

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Safety Leak
As EnergySolutions was touting the safety of its low-level nuclear waste dump in Utah’s west desert, a tanker carrying waste processed at the facility was leaking on Utah roads. The tanker belonged not to EnergySolutions, but to the Department of Energy, which was transporting solvent—toxic at 300 feet—back to Tennessee after processing in Utah. But, the March 31 event bolsters claims of Congressman Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and others that turning Utah into a stopping point for the world’s waste threatens Beehive State residents no matter how safe EnergySolutions keeps its own operations. The tanker leak was apparently caused by a hose repaired with duct tape. The feds will have to do a better job if Utah is to agree to be the world’s nuclear dumping ground.

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Payday Regulation
The Salt Lake City Council has passed a law limiting payday-lending outlets to one every half mile. It’s a good first step to regulating the high-interest lenders that can help trap people in a cycle of poverty. A coalition of religious communities will try to add protections by pushing Utah’s Legislature to cap state interest rates at 100 percent, compared to the nearly 400 percent average interest now charged by payday lenders. More needs to be done. Regulation of payday lending won’t change the fact that the working poor are frozen out of lower-interest credit markets, the reason some turn to loan sharks in the first place.

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