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AM News Brief: Renaming Places, Coal’s Demise & Suing Taylor Swift

Hunter Canyon Coal Plant
iStock.com / desertsolitaire
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The financial firm Morgan Stanley is predicting coal will leave the U.S. Energy sector by 2033. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, February 4, 2021

State

Ranked Choice Voting

Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, is running a bill to implement ranked-choice voting in all of Utah’s primary elections. Ranked-choice voting allows people to list candidates in order of preference, and once a candidate is eliminated, their vote goes to whoever was next on their ballot. The state county clerks association opposes the bill, and said the system wouldn’t have a big effect on election outcomes in Utah. Winder’s bill calls for $500,000 dollars to educate voters and $4,000 to upgrade voting software. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger

More Voice In Renaming Utah Places

Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring a bill to make it easier to get place names referring to American Indians changed. It would simplify the application process to the federal government, and advocates say it would give more voice to tribal nations. Shayna Snyder, who is Navajo and Southern Ute, is part of the Repeak Committee which is working to change the name of Squaw Peak in Utah County. “The name is degrading and derogatory,” she said. “Names like this create a negative effect on current public perception and policy affecting the Native American women of Utah.” Despite its offensive nature, “squaw” is used in 56 geographic place names throughout Utah. The bill passed out of committee Wednesday by a unanimous vote. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Assault On U Campus

The University of Utah Police Department issued a campus safety warning early Thursday morning. Campus police said the victim was on their way to meet someone on campus when two men approached from behind a dumpster and assaulted the victim. The police had gotten a delayed report of the assault from a University healthcare worker in the evening hours Wednesday night, according to the safety warning. It said the victim is not affiliated with the university, and the University’s police department’s investigation is continuing. — Bob Nelson

Utah Theme Park Suing Taylor Swift

A Utah County fantasy theme park is suing singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for trademark infringement. Evermore Parks’ lawsuit claims the title of Swift's 2020 album “Evermore” violates the park's trademark rights. Swift’s lawyers say the allegations are baseless. They added Swift styled the album in a way that is entirely distinct from the park's aesthetic. Evermore Park was created in 2018 and features costumed actors and performers. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Every Drop Counts

Summer monsoon rains are a significant part of the water cycle in the Rocky Mountains. A new study found that rain events can provide up to 10% of a high mountain stream’s annual water amount. While snow melt is the biggest contributor, Rosemary Carroll of the Desert Research Institute said a lackluster monsoon season can play a big role in prolonging and worsening drought. Her research focuses on high elevation streams in the headwaters for the Colorado River basin in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. — Luke Runyon, KUNC

Predicting Coal’s Demise

The financial firm Morgan Stanley is predicting coal will leave the U.S. Energy sector by 2033. Bloomberg News broke that story, and if it comes true, it could be bad news for several mining towns around our region. Some energy economists are skeptical that coal would leave that quickly because of market forces alone. However, there’s a consensus that coal is in rapid decline and may not last more than a few more decades on the grid. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau