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AM News Brief: VP Debate Moderator, Nuclear Power Warning & Report Finds BLM Misled Congress On Agency Move

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A researcher at the University of British Columbia is raising concerns about a nuclear power plant project funded primarily by cities in Utah. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, September 3, 2020

State

Moderator Chosen For VP Debate In Utah
Journalist Susan Page, the Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, will moderate the only vice presidential debate. Sitting Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris will face off on Oct. 7 at Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates made the announcement Wednesday. Page often stepped in as guest host on The Diane Rehm Show that aired for years on KUER before Rehm's retirement. — Diane Maggipinto

Nuclear Power Warning
A researcher at the University of British Columbia is raising concerns about a nuclear power plant project funded primarily by cities in Utah. In a report published Wednesday, physicist M.V. Ramana detailed cost increases and delays that have plagued the project since it began in 2008. He said that members of the Utah-based utility cooperative who are involved in the project should get out now, especially since it depends partially on the U.S. Department of Energy. He cautioned that members could be left with unexpected financial burdens if DOE subsidies do not materialize. Sept. 30 is the deadline for cities to leave the project before its next phase begins. Lehi and Logan both recently left the project, citing the financial risks involved. — Kate Groetzinger

Senator Says Utah Constitutional Amendment On Slavery Reflects “True Values”
In November Utahns will vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would remove the option of slavery as punishment for a crime. State Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, sponsored the resolution in the Utah senate last year. In a panel discussion Wednesday hosted by Action Utah, a community advocacy group, Anderegg said the main pushback he’s received is that it’s just symbolic and a waste of time. But he said that our documents must reflect our true values and that is an opportunity for Utah to prove that it believes everyone is created equal. — Elaine Clark

Write-In Candidates Ask To Be Listed For Voters
The deadline for write-in candidates to qualify for the November election closed this week. One of those hopefuls wants to make it easier for voters to identify those candidates who aren’t on the ballot. Marci Green Campbell recently asked state election officials to include a list of write-in candidates with mail-in ballots, to make up for what she views as a lack of public participation when the Republican caucuses were canceled this spring. But the elections office said that would cost county clerks a total of $150,000 — and it’s not required by law. Green Campbell is one of 41 write-in candidates who have qualified for Utah’s general election. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Students Rally Thursday On U Campus
A student group at the University of Utah plans to hold a rally this Thursday afternoon calling for the resignation of university President Ruth Watkins. The group is called UnsafeU, and they’ve openly criticized Watkins over the university’s handling of the Lauren McCluskey case. McCluskey’s ex-boyfriend killed her on campus in 2018, after she brought concerns about her safety to campus police. Most recently, an investigation by the Utah Department of Public Safety showed officers inappropriately shared explicit photos of her. UnSafeU is also calling for the abolition of the University Police Department and reallocating funds from the department to different student resources. — Emily Means

Deer Creek Reservoir Algal Bloom Watch
The Wasatch County Health Department has issued a "Health Watch" for Deer Creek Reservoir, citing the presence of potentially harmful algae. Officials are awaiting results of samples taken from the water. Deer Creek remains open. The public is advised to avoid swimming, water skiing or boating in areas of scum. The health department did not indicate where the algae has accumulated. — Diane Maggipinto

Region/Nation

Report Says BLM Misled Congress About Move
Top officials misled Congress when it came to moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters out West. That’s according to a new report from the Interior Department Office of Inspector General. BLM Acting director William Perry Pendley told Congress that the agency would be unable to stay in its former office space because the cost would be too high. The report, however, found those claims to be misleading. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Navajo Nation Plans Partial Lockdown
A partial weekend lockdown and daily curfew will be in place on the Navajo Nation. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the restrictions will be in place leading up to the Labor Day weekend and through September to help control the spread of the coronavirus on the tribe's reservation. The lockdowns start at 9 p.m. Saturday and run until 5 a.m. Monday. Daily curfews run from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Nez advised the public to avoid traveling, saying that increases the risk of infection and bringing it home to family. Navajo health officials announced Wednesday 17 additional cases of COVID-19 and one death. — Associated Press

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