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Utah's climate roadmap

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Rockies Today

January 22 · Issue #66 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Utah's climate roadmap
A climate report ordered by the Utah Legislature offers a roadmap for tackling warming and pollution at the same time, an approach that could bridge the partisan divide.
Has conservative Utah turned a corner on climate change? Has conservative Utah turned a corner on climate change?
When Utah lawmakers start their legislative session next week, they’ll have a roadmap waiting for them that could become one of the nation’s most aggressive climate action plans in a Republican-led state—and potentially a path forward for other conservative states looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
That the proposal even exists signals a major shift in thinking in a state where legislators for years have publicly questioned—and sometimes ridiculed—climate science.  
Led by a University of Utah economics think tank, proponents of the seven-point strategy managed to dodge political potholes by emphasizing widely supported goals like cleaning up air pollution and stressing economic benefits, an approach some policy experts say could provide a model for bipartisan action on climate change in other conservative states.
“That’s the sort of framing that can help change the conversation in a way that does bridge partisan divides,” said Jay Turner, an environmental politics and policy researcher at Wellesley College and co-author of the book “The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump.”
Conservatives in the State Capitol haven’t abandoned fossil fuels. They actively support lawsuits to open up West Coast shipping terminals and maintain a $53 million fund to help build export capacity for shipping Utah coal overseas. But widespread public concern about air pollution has also made them more receptive to emissions reductions.
Colorado eyes Suncor crackdown
After school lockouts and flunked inspections, Colorado eyes Suncor crackdown After school lockouts and flunked inspections, Colorado eyes Suncor crackdown
In more oil and gas news out of Colorado and beyond…
Colorado oil and gas producer KP Kauffman to pay $3.5 million in fines, repairs in air pollution settlement
Colorado’s goal to rein in ozone misses federal deadline by two years
Oregon rejects extension request on key permit for proposed Jordan Cove LNG project
Keystone XL getting ready to move in Montana
Trudeau and his climate minister are ‘wrestling’ with a massive oilsands decision
Indigenous leaders protest against major Alberta oilsands mine proposal
Will SCOTUS throw Wyoming coal a lifeline?
Wyoming asks Supreme Court to decide challenge to blocked Washington coal terminal Wyoming asks Supreme Court to decide challenge to blocked Washington coal terminal
Coal export battle hinges on commerce clause
Meanwhile…
Moody's: U.S. coal sector remains negative on ESG, earnings concerns
Investment giant BlackRock marks a major milestone in coal divestment movement
Taking up the gauntlet
Northwest salmon in peril, and efforts to save them scale up Northwest salmon in peril, and efforts to save them scale up
This past fall, Idaho officials took the extraordinary step of closing the Clearwater River to salmon and steelhead trout fishing, leaving guides like Jeremy Sabus scrambling to find other work.
“It’s six weeks of my favorite time of the year, you get to shake hands with 3-foot trout,” Sabus says.
Billed as one of the top destinations for salmon fishing in the United States, the Clearwater cuts through steep gorges in northern Idaho before dumping into the Snake and eventually, Columbia rivers. Every year, salmon and steelhead make an epic 500-mile or longer journey upstream from the ocean to spawn.
But this winter their runs are among the lowest they’ve been in a century.
It’s never been easy for the famed fish. They have to navigate a series of dams that support the region’s hydropower grid and irrigation and barges for agriculture. These slow down river flows in places, warm the water and make the trout more vulnerable to predators.
But the situation is now being exacerbated by climate change, which is warming the Pacific Ocean and increasing acidity levels. One federal scientist recently estimated that if nothing more is done to save the salmon and steelhead across the Columbia River basin, some of the species will go extinct within 20 years.
This has added urgency in long-running efforts to save the salmon. It’s also reopened a bitter, 30-year legal battle over the fish and the rivers it depends on.
Jim Jones, who served eight years as Idaho Attorney General and 12 years as a justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, penned this opinion published Tuesday:
Idaho’s salmon can’t survive with the lower Snake dams in place
More wildlife news:
Feds seek to downlist humpback chub status
Stoneflies and mayflies, canaries of our streams
Groups prepare to sue over grazing in Wyoming grizzly range
Spate of mountain lion attacks, sightings in Idaho sparks concern
What else we're reading today
Utah enacts ban on ‘conversion therapy’ for minors
Selena Not Afraid's death still under investigation; autopsy scheduled
BLM employees look to unionize ahead of move West
SCOTUS considers Montana religious schools case
Arizona utility APS commits to carbon-free power by 2050
We know the Earth is warming. We know that will stress water in the West. But we don’t know how.
Federal study links climate change, giant sequoia deaths
Legislation to legalize hemp in Idaho introduced in Senate
Oregon cannabis sales per adult along the Idaho border are more than four times the state average
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana. 
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812