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AM News Brief: Uinta Basin oil railway, environmental grants & LGBTQ+ equality in Salt Lake City

Photo of a rainbow pride flag.
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Salt Lake City has received the maximum score for LGBTQ+ equality according to the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Thursday morning, Dec. 16, 2021

Northern Utah

Utah oil railway set to begin construction

The Uinta Basin Railway received its construction and operation permit Wednesday. The 88-mile railway is designed to move oil from the Uinta Basin to Gulf Coast refineries. It would quadruple crude oil production in the basin to 350,000 barrels per day releasing an estimated 53 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Construction workers would dig up over 400 streams and strip bare more than 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat according to a federal environmental analysis. Deeda Seed from the Center for Biological Diversity called the decision a mistake in a statement Wednesday. They said Utah officials are misusing public funds and the CBD plans to “do everything possible to stop it.” — Leah Treidler

Family members worry about conditions at the Utah State Prison

Cold temperatures and persistent COVID-19 cases at the Utah State Prison have some family members worried about their loved ones. There are currently 123 active cases at the Draper prison, and more than half of them are at the women’s facility. Victoria Schoenheide’s cousin — Ambri — is currently housed in the Timpanogos unit. She said Ambri told her there’s been no heating in the area where she’s quarantining and there’s a lack of cleaning supplies. Schoenheide said she’s worried her cousin might get sicker. A spokesperson for the prison says the heating issue was caused by external doors being propped open and they've now resolved the issue. Read the full story.Ivana Martinez

Utah-based projects receive environmental justice grants

Three Utah projects were selected to receive up to $200,000 each from the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s out of more than $14 million in environmental justice grants distributed nationwide. Utah’s grant money will fund a program to improve air quality in Salt Lake City's Westside. Another project will map air quality by placing monitors on electric buses along UTA Route 509. The third project is from Utah Clean Cities, and it will identify and address inequities experienced by communities near the Utah Inland Port. — Leah Treidler

Salt Lake City gets high marks for LGBTQ+ equality

Salt Lake City has received the maximum score for LGBTQ+ equality according to the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. The organization rates non-discrimination laws, law enforcement, city leadership and more factors based on the impact on LGBTQ+ people. That score is a major improvement from 2019 when Salt Lake City scored 66 out of 100. The city raised its score through significant policy changes like the coverage of gender-affirming surgery for city employees and the mayor’s advocacy for rights protections. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Bureau of Land Management moving employees back to D.C.

The Bureau of Land Management's headquarters are moving back to Washington D.C. after a short tenure in Grand Junction, Colorado. BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning wrote in an email Tuesday that most senior officials will be headed back to the capitol, but a few will stay behind in this new Western Headquarters. She wrote that an employee group will help make any future staffing decisions. Hundreds quit or retired following the initial move to Colorado. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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