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AM News Brief: Summit County State Of Emergency, Oil And Gas Leasing Appeal & Translating Science Into Navajo

Stock photo of an oil pump jack in eastern Utah.
The Biden administration is appealing a federal judge's order that blocks the suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and waters. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, Aug. 17, 2021


Representation Shuffle

Salt Lake, Utah and Washington counties could see the biggest changes in the shapes of their state legislative districts, according to Jerry Howe with the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. The population in some districts in southwestern Salt Lake County, northwestern Utah County and western Washington County have exploded in the past decade. Now, the state has to make them smaller so they end up with roughly the same amount of people as others around the state. That could lead to a ripple effect since the areas around them will have to absorb more people — which could make those secondary ones too big. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Summit County State of Emergency

Summit County has declared a state of emergency in response to the Parley's Canyon Wildfire. The county manager says Summit County will need additional help in its response and recovery efforts. The fire is now 21% contained at 539 acres. But, a red flag warning is in effect from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday for most of Northern and Central Utah. Thunderstorms could bring lightning which is especially hazardous after a very dry two-week period. Evacuation orders have been extended in parts of Summit County. According to the Sheriff’s office, Upper Pinebrook is extended through Wednesday night and orders will remain in place for Summit Park and Timberline through Thursday night. The evacuation order for Lower Pinebrook was lifted Monday. The American Red Cross kept its shelter open Monday night for people who fled the Parleys Canyon Fire and are partnering with local organizations to help residents who need accommodation for pets. — Pamela McCall/Elaine Clark

Utahn Recovering From Alligator Attack

An employee at a Utah reptile center is recovering after an alligator yanked her into its enclosure during a presentation, and a visitor leapt in after her and helped free her from its jaws. Video taken by a guest shows an unidentified handler at Scales & Tails Utah in West Valley City talking to guests about the alligator Saturday when it bit her hand and dragged her into the water. The video shows one of the guests climbing on top of the alligator and pinning it. Another guest then helped the handler escape from the pool. The reptile center's owner, Shane Richins, said the handler is recovering after undergoing surgery. — Associated Press


Talking Science In Diné Bizaad

Communicating scientific concepts in the Navajo language can be a challenge since there isn’t always a direct translation for the words. Sterling Martin is a citizen of the Navajo Nation who’s working on his PhD in biophysics. Martin founded Project ENABLE — Enriching Navajo As Biology Language for Education. With the help of fluent speakers, he’s translated more than 250 words into Navajo, including “nucleus” and “DNA.” Martin hopes the new words will be put to use in classrooms and laboratories and facilitate better communication about things like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s working to compile the words into an online dictionary. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Biden Administration Appeals Oil Leasing Decision

The Biden administration is appealing a federal judge's order that blocks the suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and waters. A Louisiana-based federal judge issued the ruling in June, siding with that state's attorney general and officials in 12 other states. Those states said the administration bypassed bureaucratic steps required to enact the suspension and that money and jobs were at stake. The Biden administration said Monday the pause is needed because the leasing programs are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions. It added that leasing will continue during the appeal. — Associated Press

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