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AM News Brief: Too Much Oil, An Emerging Megadrought & A Legislative Economic Response Committee

Photo of a car at a ballot drop box.
Salt Lake County Clerk's Office
Utah's primary elections are coming up in June, and they could be held entirely through mail-in ballots, unless counties create drive-up polling options. This and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, April 17, 2020

State

Social Distance Voting

Utah’s primary elections are coming up in June, and they could be held entirely through mail-in ballots, unless counties create drive-up polling options. The bill would not apply to San Juan County though, because of a 2018 court settlement requiring early voting and in-person polling locations with translation services for Navajo voters. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff & Sonja Hutson

Economic Response Committee

The Utah Senate approved a bill Thursday to create a COVID-19 committee to help restart the state economy. The committee would report directly to the governor, who could then adapt or reject recommendations. Although the bill received criticism about not meeting the needs of local communities, its sponsor, Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, said the new commission would help on both the local and state level. Now the bill needs House approval. — Jessica Lowell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Region

Oil Glut

A recent deal between oil-producing countries won’t be enough to save our region’s oil industry from taking a big hit. That’s because a drop in production is far eclipsed by the drop in oil demand world-wide during the COVID crisis. So prices have dropped, which is bad news for Mountain West states that depend on oil industry profits. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Emerging Megadrought

A new study finds that much of the western United States is baking in what scientists are calling an emerging megadrought. The study came out Thursday in the journal Science. It blames almost half the problem on man-made global warming, which scientists say is only getting worse. Deep droughts lasting decades happen every couple of hundred years. But the current one is one of the most severe since the year 800. This current drought started in 2000. Still, some scientists say it may not have lasted long enough yet to qualify as a megadrought. — Associated Press

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