skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Colleges see big drop in foreign-language enrollment; Kentucky advocates say it's time to bury medical debt; Young Farmers in Michigan hope the new farm bill will include key benefits regarding land access.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

The White House presses for supplemental Ukraine aid. Leaders condemn antisemitic attacks during Gaza ceasefire protests. Despite concerns about the next election, one Arizona legal expert says courts generally side with voters and democracy.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Lawsuit Argues UT Has Failed to Address Shrinking Great Salt Lake

play audio
Play

Thursday, September 14, 2023   

Conservation and community groups have filed a lawsuit against Utah for what they claim is the state's failure to ensure enough water gets to the Great Salt Lake, to avoid what they call an "ecological collapse."

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Utah to let more water reach the largest natural lake in the Western Hemisphere.

John Leshy, professor emeritus of law at the University of California-San Francisco, said the lake is a "public trust" resource per the state's constitution. He added the court will examine what the designation means when it comes to managing and protecting it.

Back in the 1970s, the California Supreme Court stepped in to protect Mono Lake from its water being diverted to Los Angeles utilizing the Public Trust Doctrine. Leshy argued it could set a strong precedent in Utah.

"The Utah courts will have to make up their own minds about what Utah law said on this subject," Leshy acknowledged. "But obviously if they look to the Mono Lake situation, they will do something along the lines of 'You can't let this important resource disappear from inaction,' because that is what the future holds unless the courts intervene."

Leshy pointed out potential public health impacts make the Great Salt Lake case different and more serious than the Mono Lake case. According to a NASA study, residents in west Salt Lake City and Tooele County will be disproportionately affected by the exposed lake bed sediment which contains fine particulates and toxic pollutants. Critics of using the "public trust" approach said there are multiple water users to consider, and other, less drastic solutions to improve the lake's health.

Stu Gillespie, senior attorney for the environmental law firm Earthjustice, filed the lawsuit. He contended the Utah Constitution imposes public trust duties, forcing the state to protect the Great Salt Lake, which now sits below the point experts said is needed to remain viable.

According to Earthjustice, the state cannot sustain a minimum water level of about 4,200 feet without modifying upstream diversions. Gillespie stressed the law is on the plaintiffs' side.

"The lake has gone into a structural decline in recent years," Gillespie pointed out. "The elevation has dropped, dropped and dropped, hitting record low levels. And as a result, that is triggering widespread impacts to the ecosystem, and also creating a public health crisis."

In Utah State University polling, a large majority of Utahns see drought and a drying Great Salt Lake as their top two environmental concerns. Gov. Spencer Cox's office would not comment on ongoing litigation.


get more stories like this via email

more stories
The Mecca Hills, southeast of the Coachella Valley, are part of the proposed Chuckwalla National Monument. (Bureau of Land Management)

Social Issues

play sound

California tribes are headed to the White House Tribal Nations Summit tomorrow, where they will ask Congress and the Biden administration to create …


Environment

play sound

A new report shows Maine is exceeding the home-heating goals set forth in its ambitious four-year climate plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions…

Social Issues

play sound

By India Gardener / Broadcast version by Nadia Ramlagan reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration. According to Attorney …


An analysis of government data by the health policy group KFF estimates that nearly one in 10 adults, or roughly 23 million people nationwide, owe significant medical debt. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

It's estimated that one in three Kentuckians struggles to pay medical bills, and the issue continues to be a driving factor in personal bankruptcy …

Social Issues

play sound

Senate lawmakers are soon expected to vote on the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act, legislation introduced this year by Republican Sen…

The Rein in Response Kickoff event will take place at 44 E. 130 N in La Verkin. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

A new program in Utah wants to help first responders learn to recognize and work through their traumatic life events through horsemanship. This …

Health and Wellness

play sound

A coalition of Nevada groups is behind a statewide effort to make Nevada an Employment First state. That would align the state with a U.S. Labor …

Social Issues

play sound

Government accountability groups want increased transparency in New York criminal court decisions. This comes after a new report finds only 6% of …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021