By on October 14, 2014


Death by a thousand cuts

The reasoning can be completely valid: job creation, economic boost, added amenities, sales tax generation, etc. Policymakers can be gradually convinced that the location is right, the business plan pencils out and that not many people object to a project, judging from the miniscule number of citizens able to take time off work to attend a public meeting to speak out against it. It’s a win-win!

But the grandiose Disneyland development slated for Snow King is a lose-lose. It started with Manuel Lopez crying poverty and selling off the hotel aspect. Then we learn that the ski operations leak to the tune of a half-million dollars annually. The answer to that was to beef up snowmaking capabilities and put in a zip line. Yeah, that’ll solve everything.

Now, here comes another worn out song. A California developer wants to build, build, build. But first, he wants more commercial density so he can cram more stuff onto the hillside at the base of Snow King, to potentially include a convention center, a movie theater and even an old folk’s home. But developer Will Gustafson won’t spend any of his pretty, shiny money in Jackson until the Town Council grants him an upzone.

Wake up, citizens. This is how the town you loved becomes the city you move away from. Piece by piece, with good intent.

PROPSFistbumpWolf at the door

Our Founding Fathers envisioned a republic of united states, each enjoying a fair amount of sovereign immunity from the clutches of country. What the signers of the Declaration of Independence could not have foreseen was how easy it would be for the “united” part to grow more important and for the states to lose their independence.

However, the farther away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a state is, the lousier the feds are at governing it. What U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson knows about Wyoming’s wolves is probably only what she has been told by powerful wildlife protection groups, whose might, clout and funding sources far exceed anything state wildlife managers in Wyoming could keep up with.

Wyoming had a decent plan and it seemed to be working. What’s more, Wyoming wildlife managers know what’s best for Wyoming’s wolves. Overreaction would be to sue the feds. Or countersue. The last thing Wyoming needs to be doing right now is trying to send this battle to court again. Governor Matt Mead and others have proposed that it’s time for state lawmakers to act. They’re right.

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis said, “We have done everything the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked of us and more.” She’s right.

Idaho and Montana both simply passed their own legislation when federal courts kept bouncing wolf protection back and forth based on the latest lawsuit. This legislation supersedes Fish and Wildlife and any district judge’s ruling.

It’s time to take back from Washington. Here’s a place to do it.

PROPSFistbumpOh no, it’s the ozone

It’s nothing short of shameful that Wyoming air quality is continually ranked worse than most urban centers known for their smog. “Wyoming air pollution worse than Los Angeles,” read headlines in 2011. “Wyoming air quality regulations lag in areas with new oil development,” read another earlier this year. And still again, just this month, “Wyoming could fall below federal standards.”

Now, we learn, it isn’t all the fault of big oil and gas companies. Wyoming itself is partly to blame. Research released earlier this week suggests that the state is a victim of its own climate. Data collection over the past three winters in the perennially smoggy Uintah Basin in Utah led researchers to reassess what they thought they knew about pollution from oil fields.

“Levels of volatile organic compounds build high enough that they can trigger pollution-forming reactions themselves,” read a report issued by the Chemical Sciences Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “In winter, warm air aloft can trap cold air below, creating an inversion that concentrates VOCs. The presence of snow increases light reflection and accelerates ozone production.”

The new study will undoubtedly help environmentalists and minerals extractors in the Pinedale area work out a cleaner plan moving forward. Cooperation between groups calling for “greener” practices and companies mining Wyoming’s natural resources has already made encouraging progress toward cleaner skies in the Pinedale region. It’s welcome news considering Wyoming regulators fined six companies last summer for air pollution and that new federal standards for 2015, currently being considered by the EPA, would put Wyoming in serious compliance jeopardy.

About Jake Nichols

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