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PM News Brief: Zion Reopens, Climate Change Costs & Utah Fights Antiquities Act

A photo of Zion National Park during the winter.
Richard Schneider
/
Flickr
Zion National Park has reopened after being closed earlier Tuesday because of a winter storm, but park officials warn roads and trails are still icy. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, January 26, 2021

State

Utah Attorney General Facing Possible Impeachment

Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is facing a possible impeachment. The move stems from his ties to an organization that urged people to go to the U.S. Capitol the day it was sieged and from his involvement in challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, announced Tuesday morning he planned to sponsor an impeachment resolution against Reyes, which he said is the best way to investigate the attorney general’s actions, and wouldn't necessarily result in an actual impeachment. Reyes did not respond to a request for comment, but other Republicans have criticized the move calling it divisive. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

New COVID-19 Cases Slowly Declining

Utah health officials announced more than 1,400 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. New daily cases in Utah have been slowly declining. The state’s week long average of new cases is about 1,800. That’s down from more than 2,000 week ago. Officials reported 17 more people have died from COVID-19 — four of them died last year. — Ross Terrell

Walgreens And CVS Sending COVID-19 Vaccines To UDOH

Two pharmacies are transferring doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Utah Department of Health. Walgreens and CVS are sending more than 28,000 doses they received from the federal government to UDOH. Those will then be distributed around Utah. Nearly 9,000 doses are already here in the state. The rest will be sent next week. According to the state’s department of health, those pharmacies will still have enough supply to continue all their scheduled vaccinations at long-term care facilities. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

How Will Federal Oil And Gas Moratoriums Affect Utah?

President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to announce an extended moratorium on oil and gas leasing Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. The ban would apply to all federal public lands and would follow a 60-day pause on new leasing announced last week. Kathleen Sgamma with the Western Energy Alliance said a ban on new leasing will decimate the industry in the West.The Wyoming Energy Authority found a four year ban on new leasing would cost Western states over $8 billion of tax revenue, and almost 60,000 jobs a year. But the impact on Utah may not be so severe, according to John Ruple, an environmental law professor at the University of Utah. He said 63% of federal leases in Utah are undeveloped and those will remain in effect. Utah made around $50 million dollars from oil and gas drilling on federal public land last year, and around $300,000 dollars directly from lease sales. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Utah Senators File Bill Against Antiquities Act

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, reintroduced a bill Tuesday to curb the use of the Antiquities Act in Utah. The Act allows presidents to designate national monuments by executive action and Lee said that hurts rural Utahns. “Rural Americans want what all Americans want,” Lee said, “a dignified, decent paying job and a healthy community whose future is determined by local residents, not their self styled betters thousands of miles away.” The bill would make it illegal for a president to create or enlarge a national monument in Utah without Congressional approval. Romney and Lee have introduced the legislation twice since 2018, but it hasn’t made it out of committee. Congress has passed similar laws applying to Alaska and Wyoming. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Zion National Park Reopening After Winter Storm

Zion National Park has reopened after being closed earlier Tuesday because of a winter storm, but park officials warn roads and trails are still icy. The highway leading into the park was inaccessible Monday night and Tuesday morning. Also Monday night, both lanes of traffic on Interstate 15 in Washington County were stopped because of crashes in the area. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

U.S. Federal Reserve Researching Costs Of Climate Change

The U.S. Federal Reserve has created its first committee to research the financial impacts of climate change. Some economists in the West said it’s about time, given that we’ve seen the increasing effects from things like wildfires for years. However, they say the Federal Reserve is the gold standard in economic research, so whatever they find could be helpful for the nation, and even local communities, to prepare as climate change effects continue to grow. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau