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PM News Brief: Black Lives Matter Mural, San Juan Uranium Waste & 700 COVID Cases

An aerial image shows two large ponds of uranium tailings with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the background.
Tim Peterson/LightHawk
The White Mesa Mill in San Juan County would be paid to accept uranium-containing waste from Estonia, if the mill's permit request is granted.

Wednesday evening, July 8, 2020

STATE

Utah Black Lives Matter Leader Meets With Governor

Lex Scott, leader of the Utah Black Lives Matter chapter, met with Gov. Gary Herbert Tuesday to submit requests for police reform. The list included creating a task force for law enforcement and prison data collection and starting a statewide registry for police misconduct. They’re also asking that police departments around the state require implicit bias training. Meanwhile, Salt Lake City announced Wednesday that it’s looking for local artists to help paint a Black Lives Matter mural at the entrance of City Hall. Scott says her group asked for the mural and thanked Mayor Erin Mendenhall for listening. Artists have a week to submit their design. Then a commission will choose eight people to work on the mural. — Ross Terrell

Utah Sets Two COVID Records In One Day

Utah set two COVID records Wednesday, with 722 new cases and seven more deaths reported by health officials. Each number represents a single day high for the state since the start of the pandemic. Six of the people who died, were either hospitalized or in a long term care facility. This comes as Gov. Gary Herbert considers a statewide mask mandate. Herbert met with Utah’s house speaker and senate president Tuesday to discuss the matter. The state’s hospital association has also sent a letter to legislative leadership asking for them to require face coverings. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

 

NORTHERN UTAH

So, You Want To Host A Large Event?

Big events were one of the first things to go as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. But as Utah begins to reopen, some are coming back. Under the state’s yellow or low risk phase of pandemic guidelines, venues and event spaces can host up to 6,000 people in outdoor space, 3,000 if indoor. Organizers, however, have to show how they’ll keep people 6 feet apart, disinfect areas regularly and collect information that could be used for contact tracing. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Vivint Solar Acquired By Sunrun

Sunrun, a residential solar company based in San Francisco, has announced an agreement to acquire Lehi-based Vivint Solar — one of its major competitors — in a $3.2 billion all-stock deal. In a release, the California-based company estimates the merger will save as much as $90 million each year. Vivint stockholders will have each share converted to roughly half a Sunrun share. The merger is expected to be complete by the end of this year pending shareholder approval. There is no word yet on how the merger might affect jobs. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

Navajo Nation President Asks Congress For Spending Extension

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez asked members of Congress during a House committee hearing Wednesday for a one year extension to use their federal CARES Act funding. The Navajo Nation has received $600 million through the CARES Act. But if they don’t spend that money by the end of 2020, the federal government can take it back. Nez said that’s not fair to tribes like his, whose funding was held up in litigation. He also asked Congress to make it easier for the Navajo Nation to spend the money. That would include expediting permitting processes and leases on the Nation, which is treated like federal land. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

San Juan Opposing Estonia’s Uranium Waste

San Juan County is opposing the transport of radioactive material from Eastern Europe to a uranium mill in the county. The county commission voted this week to send a letter to state regulators asking them to deny the mill’s permit request. If granted, the White Mesa Mill would be paid to accept the uranium-containing waste from Estonia. The Ute Mountain Ute tribe has a reservation next to the mill and has also asked state regulators to deny the permit. Public comment on the permit closes at the end of Thursday. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

REGION/NATION

Unfavorable View Of Trump’s Pandemic Handling

Nearly two-thirds of residents in the Mountain West believe President Trump isn’t doing a good job handling the pandemic. That’s according to a new survey from researchers at Harvard, Rutgers, Northeastern and Northwestern universities. Trump’s approval ratings in regards to the pandemic have dropped an average 10 points since last April both across the nation and in our region.— Nate Hegyi, Mountain West New Bureau

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