One Utah avoids ‘climate change’ and air pollution while trying to boost the state’s rural areas

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Urban Utah may be booming, but rural areas of the state are sliding in a different direction.

The Cox government’s One Utah Roadmap is intended to provide a lifeline through prioritizing local and state control over large tracts of Utah public land, federally owned areas spanning 2/. 3 states and major investments in transportation, water development and broadband.

Solutions include improved “cooperation” with federal land managers, coordinated and coherent land-use planning, agricultural protection, and investments in infrastructure projects. “financially responsible,” such as the Uinta Basin Railroad transporting oil and the Lake Powell water pipeline.

But not covered in the plan are the major environmental challenges facing the Beehive State, such as climate change, declining water availability and poor air quality. While Governor Spencer Cox has made saving the shrinking Great Salt Lake a focus of his proposed budget, Utah’s signature water agency, or any other waterway for that matter, not even discussed in his roadmap.

As the administration nears its one-year anniversary, officials have laid out some groundwork for achieving the plan’s goals, but many are in the works and likely remain.

According to Jake Garfield, deputy director of the governor’s Office of Public Land Policy and Coordination, or PLPCO, says that “plip-co. ”

“There are a lot of places where we really have the same goal. You want to see healthy landscapes and healthy basins. You want to see wildlife populations flourish,” says Garfield. “Despite the rigors of the national political discourse, there is actually a bipartisan consensus on what we want, so we can really improve on our continued efforts to communicate well with these federal partners toward common goals.”

Meanwhile, the plan promotes projects to support mining expansion and policies to promote “food self-sufficiency”. The government seeks to protect grazing rights from lawsuits and implements a monitoring program designed to “prove” the sustainability of grazing.

Environmentalists have long argued that unbiased monitoring would document how grazing, as is the practice in most Western countries, is anything but sustainable. Even so, documenting the environmental impacts of livestock will take years to monitor, and any new state-run program will not yield useful data for some time.

But this provision in the plan shows that cattle ranching enjoyed preferential treatment in the Cox administration. That would come as no surprise.

In choosing Spencer Cox as Utah’s 18th governor in 2020, voters placed their faith in the state’s exemplary rural values. Cox, 46, grew up on a Fairview farm and served on the Sanpete County Commission before serving as a lieutenant in the Herbert administration.

“It is very important for not only the rural economy, but the culture in the countryside. Craig Buttars, Cox’s agriculture commissioner, said: “To protect agriculture, you are protecting the people who are putting food on your table, especially as we witness disruptions to traffic or production that we have seen during the pandemic”. “It is important that we work together with manufacturers and processors so that we can have a good quality product for the consumer.”

With Cox’s support, the Utah Legislature appropriated $5 million in emergency drought relief in the form of a seven-year low-interest loan.

It’s bridged some of our producers through these tough times to help them buy feed, help them replant some of the crops they’ve had to replant because of the drought, said Buttars. buy livestock instead.

Cox seems to be turning lip service into action to promote Utah’s rural areas, where cattle are raised, crops are harvested, minerals are extracted, and tourists are found. Titled “Building on the Strength of Rural Utah,” the public land section of the roadway celebrates accessibility and “multi-use.”

The plan also aims to promote federal payments to rural counties under a program known as PILTor Willow Payment of Tax. Utah counties received $42.4 million in PILT funding last year, offsetting their inability to levy a federal property tax on land. Western state policymakers have long complained that these annual payments are staggeringly inadequate.

Utah has embarked on a program, which Cox supports, to appraise much of the public land within its borders in an effort to determine how much these lands would grow if privately owned.

“What we’re doing is telling the story of Utah and the story is that PILT funding isn’t high enough. Garfield said. “That becomes increasingly problematic as we have a lot of visits to federal lands and local counties that normally pay for search and rescue, road maintenance, and ambulances.”

Interestingly, the plan does not include a move to transfer ownership of these lands from federal ownership to state ownership, which was a top priority for lawmakers when Barack Obama was a child. President. But Utah leaders largely got what they wanted in terms of public land management from the Trump administration, and the land transfer campaign lost momentum after 2017.

The arrival of another pro-conservation Democrat in the White House has yet to rekindle enthusiasm for the land transfer.

Instead, Cox’s roadmap negotiates partnerships with federal land managers, even in the face of a potential lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s recent decision to reinstate the properties. Trump-ordered cuts to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

But even if Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes goes to court to reverse the monument expansion, the Cox administration will still help create a new management plan for 2.3 million acres of public land in southern Utah.

“We won’t be on the bench as the planning process gets underway,” Garfield said. “In a state where two-thirds of the state is federally owned, the state government just needs to get involved. That’s just reality. What happens in court will happen and we support the Attorney General’s Office fully but the executive branch will engage with the federal government. ” One Utah avoids ‘climate change’ and air pollution while trying to boost the state’s rural areas

Yasmin Harisha

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