Cheap vs. Clean
What Utahns want may not be what they get in terms of energy and air pollution. Envision Utah's "Your Utah. Your Future." survey showed that a slight majority of respondents would like to see a gradual transition from coal to natural gas with more renewables in the mix. But wait—Utahns don't want to pay a lot more for better air, while a full 70 percent of Americans "support setting strict carbon-dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even though the cost of electricity would likely increase," according to a George Mason University report. Rocky Mountain Power's long-term plans call for reducing coal generation, but the Public Service Commission is looking at RMP's 20-year plans that include coal. Somebody's got to get serious—and it probably will take tax dollars. Staying with coal has a heavy price, too.
A Political Education
In a nation polarized by issues like abortion and immigration, is it any wonder that education is steeped in politics? The Utah Board of Education has become more and more a tool of the far right and is now led by a man with zero education experience. Superintendent Brad Smith has thus become the target of the Utah Democratic Education Caucus and Kim Irvine, an outspoken opponent of Smith. Irvine, in a recent blog, lists Smith's failed initiatives as Ogden superintendent, and sees them coming to the state. Already, several veteran employees of the state board have left or been let go. Now as the state board considers new science standards, there is reason to worry. With global warming and evolution considered "theory" by many, Utah's science curriculum could get fuzzy.
Clear the Record
Prison dialogue has changed—however briefly—from the facility itself to the faces of inmates who've done their time. Utah Legal Services has been working to expunge the records of 26 homeless clients, the Deseret News reported. While there are multiple barriers, expungement could mean the difference between a repeat offense and a new job to put the prisoner on track to self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, despite persistent reports of crime at the Road Home shelter, work is progressing on a new community winter shelter to relieve overcrowding and create a family-friendly atmosphere. Homelessness is not a crime, although the abject conditions in which the homeless live may often encourage crime. Both Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County are examining their homeless services and should be making positive progress.