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AM News Brief: Sage Grouse Debate, EPA Grants For Two Utah Areas & Navajo Nation Now Largest US Tribe

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Phil Douglas, UTAH DIVISION OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES
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The Biden administration announced Tuesday it’s considering a ban on new mining on large expanses of public lands in Western states. The move would aim to protect a struggling bird species — the greater sage grouse. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, May 12, 2021

State

Vetoed Social Media Bill Makes A Comeback

A controversial proposal to crack down on social media content moderation could make a comeback in the Utah Legislature. The bill would require social media companies to notify users when their post is taken down or moderated. It would also allow people to appeal the decision or make a complaint to the Utah Attorney General’s office. And, it would require moderation policies to be equitably applied. Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed the bill earlier this year over concerns it was unconstitutional and needed better coordination with other states. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

EPA Funds To Begin Redevelopment Process

Salt Lake County and Spanish Fork are both getting money from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program to assess potentially contaminated properties. Salt Lake County is receiving $600,000 to look at dozens of properties including the former World War II Army base Camp Kearns and the shuttered Seven Peaks water park site. Spanish Fork is getting $300,000 and will focus on the Industrial Park and the Expressway Landfill in the I-15 Corridor to advance the development of a new intermodal transit center. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

Sage Grouse Protection Back On The Table

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it’s considering a ban on new mining on large expanses of public lands in Western states. The move would aim to protect a struggling bird species — the greater sage grouse. The Interior Department review will cover millions of acres of land. A temporary ban on mining was imposed under the Obama administration, but dropped by the Trump administration, impacting lands in states including Utah, Idaho and Nevada. The wide-ranging, chicken-sized sage grouse has lost territory to human development and wildfires, and its population has plummeted in recent decades. — Associated Press

Navajo Nation Now Largest Tribe In The U.S.

The Navajo Nation is now the largest tribe by population in the United States, surpassing the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Over the last year, the Navajo Nation’s population grew by 30%, reaching just under 400,000 enrolled citizens. The massive influx in enrollment applications was in part due to the pandemic. The Nation’s President Jonathan Nez said many unenrolled Navajos were seeking federal CARES Act hardship assistance from the tribe. The enrollment boost means the Navajo Nation can expect a larger share of the money set aside for tribal governments in the Biden Administration’s latest coronavirus relief package. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Plan For Tribal Assistance Announced

Tribal governments have been anxiously awaiting guidance on the $20 billion set aside for them in the American Rescue Plan. This week, they got some answers. On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the funding will be divided up based on self-reported tribal population and workforce numbers. Some tribes in the Mountain West plan to spend the money on big infrastructure or healthcare projects. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

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