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Radioactive Dollar Signs

More health challenges with Utah's toxic waste, water law's complicated nature and Utah's Medicaid battle.

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Radioactive Dollar Signs
Utah might always be in the running for toxic waste capital of the U.S. And, yes, it's really about money, not the health and safety of the populace. A recent story from the Utah Investigative Journalism Project went back to the White Mesa uranium mill, which the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe profits from. Never mind contaminated water, toxic dust and the unknown health challenges. Multimillion-dollar lawsuits don't seem to deter mill developers, perhaps because the dollar signs in their eyes are more appealing. Meanwhile, the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board is considering—again—whether to allow truckloads of depleted uranium into the state. "Should one company's desire for a short-term windfall outweigh our responsibility to future generations?" asks Scott Williams in a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed. Only if you care.

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Murky Waters
Carl Albrecht is worried—at least he thinks he's worried. But that kind of imagination game can result in legislation, and then the law gets murkier and murkier. We're talking about water and water law, arguably one of the most complex issues we face. Lawmakers are looking at a Lake Powell Pipeline diverting water from the Colorado River. You know, it's easier than conservation. But on the local level, you have municipalities fighting to retain control of their drinking water and on another level, recreational waters. And then there's Albrecht, Republican representative from Richfield. "I guess I have concerns about an overzealous municipality or city council," he said in a Deseret News story. He has deeply felt concerns about not being able to boat on a reservoir—not so much being able to drink the water.

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The People's Uprising
Absent the church, formerly known as Mormon, coming out against Medicaid expansion, it looks like support for the ballot measure is growing. This despite efforts from the right-wing to scare people into thinking we're all going to go broke. That's what the Sutherland Institute wants you to believe. And House Speaker Greg Hughes loves the scare tactics. You know, he'd rather spend money on lawsuits for a coal pipeline from Utah and, oh yeah, that Trojan horse called the Inland Port. Instead, we're supposed to worry about the long-term costs of Medicaid expansion. The Utah Chapter of Americans for Prosperity is hitting the phone banks, telling cowed Republicans that their taxes will be going up and these vulnerable sick people won't get help anyway. The people will speak and likely pass the initiative. Then, they'll have to fight the Legislature as it tries to repeal the measure.

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