How the struggling Great Salt Lake could be fired from the US Senate

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to study historic drought conditions and protect the long-term health of the Great Salt Lake, the largest lake saline of the Western Hemisphere.

Earlier this month, the Great Salt Lake plummeted to its lowest level on record for the second time in a year, posing a threat to Utah’s environment and economy. Utah GOP Representatives Chris Stewart, Burgess Owens and John Curtis are leading complementary legislation in the House.

After the bill passed, Romney, Stewart, Owens and Curtis released a joint statement.

What the statement says: The rest of the country now understands the widespread repercussions of a diminished Great Salt Lake. We must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure we preserve this iconic body of water. Today’s passage of our Great Salt Lake Recovery Act highlights the sense of urgency that is needed if we are to preserve and protect this vital body of water for many generations to come. We are proud that our legislation complements and elevates the work already done by President Brad Wilson and the State of Utah to develop a permanent solution to save our Great Salt Lake, and we urge the House to pass it so that we can get it. to the office of the President and promulgated without delay.

What the law proposes to do: The Great Salt Lake Recovery Act builds on Utah’s efforts to address historic drought conditions in the Great Salt Lake and other Great Basin saline lakes in several ways. First, it authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a program to monitor and assess water availability and saline lake conditions in the Great Basin, including the Great Salt Lake, to help inform management and conservation activities for these ecosystems. . The agency will then coordinate with other entities to implement the program, which comes with $10 million in funding.

He is also leading a feasibility study to address drought conditions in the Great Salt Lake, which may include an identification of all potential technologies – including pipelines, coastal desalination plants and channel reinforcement – ​​capable of redirecting water sources and permits needed to redirect water sources across the state. borders.

What caused the crisis: Utah and the rest of the West are in the grip of a relentless drought that scientists say is the worst in 12 centuries. Modern diversions of its major tributaries undermine the water flowing to the lake, with now over 800 square miles of its lake bed exposed.

A shrinking Great Salt Lake is an economic and environmental nightmare, jeopardizing a $1.32 billion asset that provides critical habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as extractive industries and to tourism.

Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, also sponsors the Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act, which is expected to pass the House on Friday as part of a Democratic spending package on wildfires and drought.

His spokeswoman, Caroline Tucker, said it was the only GOP provision in the package and had broad bipartisan support. This is another measure to better protect the Great Salt Lake.

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