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Utah Gov. Cox reiterates that upper Colorado River states aren’t using their full water share

Gov. Spencer Cox, screencap from his conversation with Washington Post Live, Aug. 16, 2022
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A screen capture from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox's conversation with The Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2022.

On the same day that the federal government announced new Colorado River cuts aimed at Arizona and Nevada, Gov. Spencer Cox reiterated Utah’s stance that the Lower Basin states should shoulder the blame. In a live-streamed interview with The Washington Post, the governor said Arizona, California and Nevada are overusing the water allocated to them.

“Many of the Upper Basin states, including Utah, we're under our allocation,” Cox said. “But that doesn't matter that much when there isn't enough water to go around.”

Cox said sacrifices will have to happen to maintain Utah’s water supply. He applauded bills passed during the state’s 2021 Legislative Session to conserve water, like an alteration to the “use it or lose it” statute in Utah water law and the establishment of a $40 million Great Salt Lake preservation trust.

But the question remains if Utah has enough water to support its growing population. In Washington County, for example, developers must now check with the water district first to make sure there’s enough water to build.

“The ability to conserve and be more water-wise is going to be critical to our ability to grow as a state,” Cox said. “And if we don't have the water available, then we're not going to be able to grow as much as we would like.”

In the wide-ranging conversation with investigative reporter Jacqueline Alemany, the governor also reiterated his unconditional support for the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made access to abortion a constitutional right.

Cox went on to say he believes Roe is one of the reasons why the nation is divided.

“We had this piece of policy on legislation that didn't come from Congress. It didn't come from the states. It came from some, you know, nine unelected people at the Supreme Court,” Cox said.

In wake of the court’s opinion, Cox said Utah must do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies by increasing access to contraception, supporting parents after the birth of a child, and expanding health care for pregnant people.

Additionally, Cox said the state needs to do more to hold men accountable for childbearing. He pointed to a law passed by the legislature that prohibits men from obtaining a fishing or hunting license if they owe money in child support.

“I'm really hoping that we will have several policy proposals that will be passed by the legislature that will show that we do care about all life,” Cox said.

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