The Legislature took action this year to look ahead and plan for future needs with the passage of SB 80. It provides appropriations from the Transportation Fund to be deposited into the Transportation Investment Fund and the Water Infrastructure Restricted Account to pay for future water needs. According to UDOT no currently programmed projects will be impacted, and current funding for the Transportation Fund will be maintained.
SB 251 funds the establishment of criteria for better water data and reporting to allow for the creation of new water conservation targets. As our desert state continues to expand, along with our water needs, we must prepare for the future as we look for solutions that allow us to sustain our present trajectory of growth and prosperity.
SB246, a controversial bill in the media, would allow for investment in a port from which to export clean coal to China. The money for the port ultimately will be paid from the Permanent Community Impact Board (CIB) with money from mineral royalties, not from state tax dollars.
China’s coal is notoriously dirty, while Utah’s is unusually clean. Though there is a push in much of the developed world to move away from the use of coal in the generation of power, many countries still rely heavily on it. With this dependence comes pollution and the cleaner the coal, obviously, the less it pollutes. China is interested in our cleaner coal and there should be little controversy surrounding this port as the fact exists that if our state were able to meet all the demand for coal in China, that country could reduce their power-plant emissions by half.
We must also remember that many rural Utahns work in the energy industry and despite demands from environmentalists that we abandon them and the clean coal they produce, the state recognizes the benefit we derive from them. We all enjoy lower electricity rates because of the role of coal in our own economy and our state as a whole benefits from the jobs and tax dollars that industry provides, not to mention that the more of our coal the Chinese have and use, the cleaner the air.