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News Brief: Lee On Abortion, Overnight In Moab & Timeline For Lake Powell Pipeline

People sit in a crowded meeting room.
David Fuchs
Attendees participate in a public meeting regarding the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline, on which Utah could see a decision as soon as January 2021.

Thursday evening, Jan. 9, 2020


New Police Chief For U

The University of Utah has selected a new police chief: Rodney Chatman, the executive director of public safety and chief of police at the University of Dayton in Ohio. He’s succeeding Dale Brophy who retired last October, one year after the on-campus murder of student Lauren McCluskey. Read the full storyRocio Hernandez


Southern Red Sands Project Dies

Following months of contention, a proposed frac sand mine north of Kanab will not move forward. The company behind the mining project, Southern Red Sands, said in a statement on Thursday that it is stepping away from its business ventures in Kane County based on the results of “feasibility assessments.” The announcement was released in conjunction with Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal shelter organization headquartered in Kanab and one of the mining company’s most vocal opponents. The mining company and animal rescue group will work together over the coming months to create a solution that preserves the site and the animal sanctuary and benefits the community. Read the full storyDavid Fuchs, St. George

Lake Powell Pipeline

Utah has been talking about the Lake Powell Pipeline for over a decade — but based on the timeline presented by the Bureau of Reclamation officials on Wednesday, the state could see a decision on the controversial project as soon as January 2021. The Bureau of Reclamation will make one more presentation Thursday evening in South Jordan before the public comment period closes on Friday. — David Fuchs, St. George

Staying The Night In Moab

Grand County created building standards for all new lodging projects this week, after it temporarily banned the construction of overnight accommodations and removed lodging as a pre-approved use in commercial zones last year. Now, developers have to ask the county for approval to build overnight accommodations, and they must be energy and water efficient, and cannot block views. The City of Moab is expected to pass similar standards soon, according to Grand County councilmember Evan Clapper. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding


Lee & Trump

On Thursday, President Donald Trump pushed back against Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s characterization of a briefing about military intervention in Iran. Lee told reporters on Wednesday that Trump administration officials had discouraged lawmakers from debating military action. Lee said that was unconstitutional and un-American. But Trump defended the presentation and said he had “never seen” Lee like that. Thursday afternoon, Lee emphasized that he supports the president and believes Trump has been “restrained in his use of commander in chief power, more than any other president in my lifetime.”

Thursday evening, the House voted in favor of the War Powers Resolution, a non-binding resolution aimed at scaling back Trump’s power to unilaterally take military action in the Middle Eastern country. Utah Democractic Rep. Ben McAdams voted against it. A Mike Lee staffer told KUER that the Republican would still vote with Democrats in support of a similar, but enforceable, measure. That Senate vote could come as early as next week. — Elaine Clark, Jessica Lowell

Lee Says Abortions Not Medical Expenses

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is introducing a bill that would prevent abortions from being classified in the federal tax code as medical expenses eligible for deductions. Lee said in a statement the fact that abortions are defined as medical care “undermines the truth that all human beings have dignity and worth, and that the purpose of healthcare is to heal and care for them — not kill them.” Lee joined 16 other Republican senators that are co-sponsoring the bill. — Sonja Hutson

NEPA Overhaul

Ranchers applauded President Trump Thursday after he announced an overhaul of the nation’s bedrock environmental law. The National Environmental Policy Act said federal agencies must take a hard look at the environmental impacts of oil pipelines, coal mines or grazing on public lands before such projects are approved. The administration’s new proposed rules essentially mean it could be easier to build oil pipelines and mandates a faster timeline for environmental reviews on projects like timber sales or cattle grazing on public lands in the West. Conservationists say the new rules weaken protections and ignore climate change. Read the full storyNate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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