Utah lawmakers dig in on coal as energy economy shifts to renewables | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City Weekly

Utah lawmakers dig in on coal as energy economy shifts to renewables 

Hits & Misses

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Miss: Lumps of Coal
Utah is no California, and the coal industry is emblematic of why. Just take the Intermountain Power Project for a view of the future. The Legislature created the Intermountain Power Agency decades ago to manage a coal plant, but things have not gone as planned. IPA's largest customer—the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power—is taking less and less power because of California's move to renewables. And that means Utah tax revenue suffers, a Salt Lake Tribune report says. Tremonton Republican Rep. Scott Sandall wants Utah to take over the authority from the 23 cities that run it now. There is no clear path forward, despite a plan to run a next-generation plant that would be carbon-free by 2045. Sandall's save-our-coal initiative needs to look at how to put Utah out of its misery and find ways to support clean energy. Otherwise, the state will have nothing to replace the impotent coal industry.

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Miss: Moving Downstream
In case you missed it, a lot of water isn't making it to the Great Salt Lake because of the state's agriculture industry. But since 2019, there has been a federally subsidized program to help farmers upgrade their irrigation practices. A state audit of the Agricultural Water Optimization Program has shown that no one really knows how all these federal funds are being spent. "This audit proves that taxpayers are being fleeced if they think this water is going to the Great Salt Lake," said Zachary Frankel, executive director of the nonprofit Utah Rivers Council, in a news release to The Salt Lake Tribune. The program funded 332 projects, but those projects are kind of on their own. And yet, the state plans to give out $220 million more in grants this year. The audit also called for better monitoring of groundwater because aquifers have been overpumped. While the audit hits reporting, it's really about saving the lake—urgently.

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Hit: Dell Loy's Dollars
Every so often you just need a feel-good read. The Deseret News' Katie McKellar gave us one with "Dell Loy Hansen's next act: Why this Utah real estate tycoon has committed $70 million—and counting—for housing Ukrainians displaced by war." It wasn't like Hansen offered up an interview. He has been famously difficult to get into the public eye. McKellar spent time with him and his wife, learning about his history, first building his real estate empire and later owning and selling off Utah's professional soccer team Real Salt Lake. Now at 70, Hansen has committed his sizable fortune and energies to housing homeless Ukrainians. Congress is hiding from the grim realities of the Ukraine war and balking at funding the existential threat to world democracy, while Hansen is actually showing how humanity works.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Katharine Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses column. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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