Go ahead, Utah. Vote for John McCain. Just know that when he’s in the White House, McCain plans to give your water to Arizona. That’s what it sounded like, at least, when the Arizona senator and presidential candidate said that the Colorado River Compact—a 1922 agreement dividing the West’s primary water source between states—“obviously needs to be renegotiated.” To states with junior water claims, like Utah, that kind of talk has long been code for taking Utah’s river allotment and giving it to California and fast-growing Arizona. McCain has since backed away from the comments. Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is vouching for McCain even while vowing at a recent water symposium to protect Utah’s water from other states’ water grabs. Let’s hope he means it.
Each day that brings the country closer to the end of the Bush administration sees more signs of federal regulators reverting to roles as public servants (as opposed to industry lapdogs). The latest ray of hope is a Bureau of Land Management plan for 1.7 million acres near Vernal that is experiencing an oil and gas boom. The BLM recently reversed course and decided to protect large swaths from drilling. Some are unhappy that just one-third of the protected land is proposed for wilderness-style management—meaning much will be open to off-roading. Still, the BLM’s final plan recommends putting off limits to drilling nearly three times the land proposed for protection in an October draft. Agency officials said the decision came in response to—of all things—public comment.
From the don’t-you-know-who-I-am file comes the story of a 24-year-old pizza delivery girl’s run-in with Utah Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble. The story, told on the Utah County woman’s blog, Cartoon Brick Wall, is enlightening. When she arrives with the pizza, Bramble demands an exception to the pizza place’s policy of not accepting personal checks by repeatedly telling the delivery girl (and her boss, whom he telephones twice while she waits with the pies), “Look, I’m the majority leader of the state Senate.” After badgering the pizzeria owner into taking his personal check, Bramble (“Mr. Doesn’t Know When to Stop” and “Mr. Ridiculously Pissed Off” in the blog) changes his mind and pays by credit card. He allegedly topped off the encounter with a $2 tip.