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AM News Brief: Utility Assistance, Council Of Governors & Extreme Weather

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Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News
Gov. Spencer Cox is one of nine governors part of the re-launched Council of Governors. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Friday morning, July 9, 2021

State

Cox Appointed To Presidential Council Of Governors

Gov. Spencer Cox is one of nine governors part of the re-launched Council of Governors. President Joe Biden assembled this bipartisan group to focus on collaboration between federal and state leaders on matters of national security. Cox said he's grateful to have a seat at the table and that he’s looking forward to working with the President and fellow governors on behalf of the state of Utah. — David Childs

Utility Assistance Program Extended To Summer Months

A statewide program has traditionally helped eligible Utahns warm their homes in the winter. Now, it will help pay for utilities year-round. Utah’s Home Energy Assistance Target, or “HEAT” program, is open to people living at 150% below the federal poverty line. That’s a family of four making around $40,000 a year. Utah and much of the Mountain West is facing a heatwave with temperatures consistently in the triple digits statewide. Energy bills are rising as well. Last year, 32,000 Utahns received assistance from the HEAT program. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

New Mural Highlights ‘Black Joy’

A new mural coming to Salt Lake City is meant to celebrate Black joy and inspire conversations about race. The painting covers the storefront of the Patagonia Outlet in Salt Lake City. It’s filled with Utah landscapes, Black dancers and community leaders like Betty Sawyer, who’s with Ogden NAACP. Franque Bains is with Utahn Conversations, the group that facilitated those discussions. She said she sees this mural as another way of continuing the dialogue. “When you see art,” she said, “it's more of a conversation and it's more of a thing that asks you to embrace and connect.” Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Region/Nation

More Extreme Weather Events In Region’s Future

Another heatwave is moving into parts of the region, with some Mountain West states facing triple-digit temperatures. The high temperatures come on the heels of a study unequivocally linking the recent heatwave in the Pacific Northwest to human-caused climate change. Climate scientist Bryan Shuman of the University of Wyoming said we’ll likely be seeing more extreme warm events like this and fewer extreme cold events. That’s a concern for several reasons. For one, many homes lack air conditioning — and much of the region’s flora and fauna rely on cooler temperatures to survive. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Grim Water Projections For Colorado River Basin

New five-year projections for the Colorado River Basin from the Bureau of Reclamation confirm serious drought conditions gripping the region. Projections for anticipated runoff have declined significantly over the spring, and the report found Lake Powell could reach critical elevation levels. The reservoir will likely fall below its target water-surface elevation of 3,500 feet sometime next year. There’s also a small chance that in 2024, Lake Powell could fall below the minimum power pool elevation — key for its proper operation. The report also found Lake Mead in Nevada has a high likelihood of first-ever shortage conditions. — Edgar Zúñiga