Pollution in Utah is a story about opportunities lost. It's not just that the state refuses to address the wood-burning issue, though that would do a lot—estimates of at least 16 percent reduction, and of course, untold reduction in lung diseases. Now, The Salt Lake Tribune reports that ozone pollution is worse than ever, that Utah ranks among the highest in lung cancer deaths due to pollution and that those fun ATVs kick up enough toxic metals in American Fork Canyon to pose a significant health risk. What does the state do? They "encourage" people to behave. You're not supposed to idle your car, but everybody does. You're not supposed to drive on "red" burn days. You're not supposed to burn wood then, either. But many do. The state continues to say that industry accounts for "only" 11 percent of our pollution, but that, too, is a lot. It is well past time for politicians to mandate some good behavior.
A GOP Divided
If you're looking for a good soap opera, search no further. The Utah GOP is the place for you. Just when you think it couldn't get worse, the Republican factions jump the rails. The Caucus-Convention was only one stopping place for revelry. There was Enid formerly-Greene Mickelson trying to get through the bylaws, and a 20-minute viral video from caucus financier Dave Bateman accusing Sen. Todd Weiler of trying to "extort" him with a $1-million bribe to a former girlfriend. That has sparked the #StopTheBS movement (apparently there's a Buck Shot caucus that fights against the caucus system and includes Sen. Curt Bramble as its "godfather"). If Democrats rejoice that the GOP is so divided, they should think again. Utah is synonymous with Republican—no matter what.
Time to beat the dead horse—again. That's the Utah Transit Authority or UTA, soon to be known by some other acronym at a cost of $50 million. But that's the least of it. Now, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, President and CEO Jerry Benson has been "terminated" because, gee, that's what they had to do. You know, the Legislature reworked the board and changed everything, so it's their fault. Benson will get nine months of top-flight severance pay because of their dirty deed. UTA has been beset with problems—unflattering audits, high pay and junkets for board members and sweet deals for real estate, among other things. You might ask why the Legislature decided to tweak instead of revamp the agency, and that would be a good question. In the meantime, Benson will be taking off with his pockets full and the former board thumbing their noses at our hapless lawmakers.