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AM Brief: Cars emissions and health, avian flu & repealing Navajo same-sex marriage ban

An electric car sits at a row of charging stations.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
The American Lung Association said a nationwide transition to zero-emission vehicles would save 506 Utahns’ lives and $5.7 billion in public health benefits in the state.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Northern Utah

SLCC expands on-campus jobs to retain students

Salt Lake Community College has been working on a new strategy to retain students — increasing on-campus jobs. President Deneece Huftalin said the school raised its minimum wage to $15/hour and used some federal funding to open up new positions. “We know if they work on campus and can stay on campus and can network that way, they're much more likely to complete,” she said. Enrollment at most Utah colleges has gone up in recent years, but it’s fallen 18% at SLCC over the last decade. Career Services Director Ella Aho said the school also had a drop in student employment as the economy heated up. Now the school offers things like tuition waivers and vouchers for childcare in order to make the jobs more convenient and appealing. She said on-campus jobs have been around for decades but they’ve never been so tailored to student needs. Read the full story.Jon Reed

State

Zero-emission vehicle transition would save hundreds of Utahns’ lives

According to a new report from the American Lung Association, a nationwide transition to zero-emission vehicles would save 506 Utahns’ lives. The report outlines the potential health and climate benefits if all new cars sold are zero-emission by 2035 — with trucks and buses reaching that goal by 2040 — and if the nation’s electric grid is powered by clean energy by 2035. It says the transition would generate $5.7 billion in public health benefits for Utah and avoid 26,100 asthma attacks in the state alone. The report says this initiative would require investment at all levels of government, along with widespread public education. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Proposal to repeal same-sex marriage ban on Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation is considering repealing its ban on same-sex marriage. Alray Nelson, head of the LGBTQ+ Indigenous advocacy group, Navajo Nation Pride, said the ban is almost 20 years old. Nelson said LGBTQ+ people have always been a part of Navajo society, but some see same-sex marriage as foreign. “That is completely wrong — it’s coming from a settler, colonial mindset,” he said. “We need to destigmatize that and really focus on hózhó, which means ‘harmony and balance’ in Navajo.” Next, the proposal to repeal the ban will go to one of the tribal government’s committees. — Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

Navajo Nation leaders meet with Biden administration officials

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez met with officials at the White House Wednesday. At the meeting, the First Lady spoke about her work to strengthen the response to missing persons cases, along with expanding victim support services and community-based resources. President Nez thanked the administration for nominating Roselyn Tso as the next Director of the Indian Health Services and said he’s working closely with the Biden administration to update policies that slow down infrastructure development. Nez said he’s built a strong partnership with President Joe Biden and will continue to advocate on behalf of the Navajo people. — Leah Treidler

Avian flu cases crop up across US

Avian flu can be highly contagious and deadly for poultry, and new cases are popping up around the U.S., including in the Mountain West. One came in a backyard flock in Johnson County, Wyoming, north of Casper. Officials said the areas were quarantined and birds from those flocks will not enter the food system. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control said recent cases don't present a public health problem. Earlier this year, the flu was found in chickens, turkeys and wild birds. Officials are watching closely because the flu can cause major problems for the poultry industry. — Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau

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