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AM News Brief: Social Justice Challenge, ‘Real Water’ Investigation & Utah Republican Women Form PAC

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Cory Dinter for KUER
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All nine Republican women in the Utah Legislature are launching a political action committee. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, June 3, 2021

State

Utilities “Last Resort” For Wildfires

Some utility companies in the West are turning to “power shutoffs” to prevent and contain wildfires because high winds can damage transmission lines which can spark nearby dry vegetation. Rocky Mountain Power is the largest energy company in Utah. Two years ago, it introduced public safety power shutoffs when wildfire risk is high. There haven’t been any since the “last resort” option was established, according to David Eskelsen, a spokesperson with the company. However, they have the option in place as fire seasons and drought conditions have worsened across the state. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Republican Women Eye Open Seats

All nine Republican women in the Utah Legislature are launching a political action committee. Their goal is to raise money to help other Republican women run for office at all levels of government, targeting open seats and districts that are traditionally held by Democrats. About a quarter of lawmakers in the entire Utah Legislature are women. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

YWCA Leads Second Equity And Social Justice Challenge

YWCA Utah announced it will hold its second annual 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge. In a news release, the organization said the online challenge will take people through three weeks of core concepts on race equity. It said the event is being held after a year that saw the nation grappling with race and racism. That includes the trial of the police officer who murdered George Floyd as well as anti-Asian violence like the mass shooting in Atlanta. The challenge starts June 21. Over 6,000 people from 540 zip codes reportedly took part last year. — Pamela McCall

Artists Return To Downtown Farmer’s Market

The Downtown Salt Lake City Farmers’ Market opens this Saturday at Pioneer Park for its 30th year. Last year’s operations were limited due to the pandemic, but prepared food vendors and artists will be back this year though. In a press release, organizers said they expect 180 growers, food producers and artists. The market will be open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 23. Masks are welcome but not required. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

“Real Water” Blocked From Marketing As Investigation Continues

A U.S. judge has permanently blocked marketing of the Las Vegas bottled water brand “Real Water” while an investigation continues into at least one death and multiple cases of liver illness related to the water. A court order signed Monday in Las Vegas formalizes a settlement reached earlier. AffinityLifestyles.com, Real Water and company officers agreed to stop processing and distributing the product drawn from municipal tap water and will destroy any in their possession. Real Water was marketed primarily in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. Company president Brent Jones, a former Nevada state Republican lawmaker, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. — Associated Press

Beef Industry Hack Highlights Ownership Concerns

Beef processing giant JBS was hacked over the weekend, bringing about a fifth of U.S. beef production to a halt, including some plants in the Mountain West and its Hyrum, Utah facility. The Herald Journal reported that the Hyrum plant was able to get back online on Wednesday. The hack highlights a concern many cattle ranchers share: too few companies at the top. Only four companies control 80% of the beef processing market, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau / Chelsea Naughton, KUER