Utah Republicans block resolution to create target level for Great Salt Lake

Proponents of the lake were deeply disappointed.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Drought conditions have left many shallow ponds dry as they lay dormant in hopes of being refilled for wading birds on Tuesday October 11 at Audubon’s Gillmor Sanctuary on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake , 2022, near the new state penitentiary.

A resolution setting a target for the Great Salt Lake was defeated by a Senate committee, despite widespread public support.

SCR006, sponsored by Nate Blouin, D-Salt Lake City, aimed to create a lake level target of 4,198 feet, which Blouin says is the lowest level the lake can possibly reach to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Today the lake sits at 4,190 feet. According to Blouin, the resolution would not be binding. However, it would set the water level of the Great Salt Lake as a government priority.

Just last week, at a press conference, the resolution was touted as a “historic” law.

Many members of the public testified in support of the resolution on Wednesday, February 1, including lobbyists, activists and concerned citizens. But the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment voted 4-2 against, with all Republican members voting against and the two Democrats voting in favor.

During a public comment, Lynn de Freitas, executive director of the Friends of the Great Salt Lake, said it was impossible to settle for short-term goals when it came to the Great Salt Lake.

She expressed her strong support for the bill, saying that “setting this level will help us achieve that goal.”

“Some think that goal is too high, too unreachable,” she said, “but I would disagree that it’s not high enough.”

But Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, said he feared the resolution would shift government attention to the lake.

“We shouldn’t place one [issue] on top of each other,” he said. “I’m really worried that setting a number on a salt lake like this will put a peg in the sand. It will do it in a way that is not as holistic as we need it to be.”

The proponents of the lake were deeply disappointed.

“The Legislature has no interest in holding itself accountable as a state for the goal of restoring the Great Salt Lake,” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council. “By failing to establish this law, this goal, not only have we not held ourselves accountable for the restoration of the Great Salt Lake, for the preservation of the Great Salt Lake, we are not even going to debate in the legislature whether we should really want to save the Great Salt Lake or not.”

Ren Griffeth, a concerned citizen, said she was incredibly disappointed with the results. “It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that the people who are supposed to represent the people of this valley are voting against.”

Matthew Berry, a policy specialist with the Utah Rivers Council, expressed dismay at the refusal to hold a discussion on a non-binding resolution.

“For a person who is very negatively affected by polluted air, it’s pretty disgusting to see that these state legislators don’t seem to care about the individuals affected by air quality issues,” he said.

This article is published by the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that brings together news, education and media organizations to educate people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to help make a difference before it’s too late. Read all of our stories below greatsaltlakenews.org

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/02/02/utah-republicans-block/ Utah Republicans block resolution to create target level for Great Salt Lake

Justin Scacco

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