Brad Hardy: Tribune headlines demonstrate the real ‘Utah Way’

To the Legislature, the ‘Utah Way’ puts economic growth ahead of the well-being of the people.

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) In this July 24, 2017, photo the Utah state flag waves in the morning sun at the start of the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City.

As the Utah Legislature began its annual session and the governor gave his State of the State address, I heard repeatedly a reference to the “Utah Way.” I believe both Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson used the term the “Utah Way” in their remarks. And in Gov. Spencer Cox’s address he urged Utah’s leaders to not be “distracted for a second by cynics who fail to appreciate the Utah Way.”

Some of us Utahns may not have the mental acuity to fully understand what our leaders mean when they reference the Utah Way.

I, for one, keep searching for a definition of the Utah Way and what that really means when our esteemed leaders make that reference. As I read the front page of The Salt Lake Tribune of January 22 I had what some might call an epiphany. Each headline on the front page provided a clear and straightforward statement on the Utah Way.

I want to share those headlines and quote some excerpts from the stories following the headlines to help my fellow Utahns better understand what is meant by the Utah Way.

Masked mandates lifted in SL and Summit Counties

The article noted that last year the Legislature delegated to the counties and the county health departments the authority to determine the need for mask mandates, noting the advantages of local control. But this year it was the highest of priority fir both the Senate and the House to ban mask mandates.

As noted In the article, “House Republicans offered two arguments to justify their vote. ... Public health officials are doing the best they can to manage the pandemic, but elected officials have a wider view of the situation. At the same time, they argued, the government really doesn’t have a role in dealing with the pandemic.”

“Omicron hospitalizations have exploded among Utah infants”

Immediately below the story about masked mandates is an article on hospitalizations of the Utahns least able to protect themselves. This article reports that hospitalization for Utahns of all ages under 45 are at record highs. “But hospitalizations have risen more sharply for infants than for any other age group in Utah. Not only that, but infants are also now being hospitalized with COVID-19 at a higher rate per capita than any other age group in Utah except those 65 or older.”

“Race, sex eliminated as factors in monoclonal treatments”

The right column of the front page includes an interesting piece on recent actions taken by the Utah Department of Health to eliminate race and sex as factors in its prioritization of candidates for limited supplies of monoclonal antibodies and antiviral treatments for COVID-19, although clinical data showed men and patients of color were at a heightened risk. The article continues “The move comes less than two weeks after Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson falsely claimed that health officials in Utah and other states were giving priority to people of color to ‘punish’ white people.”

“Permitting process moves on for copper mine expansion”

The story at the bottom of the page highlights the status of the permitting process that is being strenuously objected to by residents of San Juan County because of potential contamination of the water supply depended upon by farmers and residents in the area near a copper mine. The story outlines the application for the copper mine to expand its activities by pumping diluted sulfuric acid into a San Juan aquifer to essentially dissolve copper deposits which then would be collected by the company. The local farmers and residents (and the San Juan County Commission) are opposed to such purposeful use of chemicals as there is high risk of long-term water contamination.

The article cites a statement by an “expert” (a former environmental consultant who worked many years for Kennecott Copper) who stated that it takes an enormous “leap of faith” to accept the cleanup plan presented by the company. The expert’s statement says that underground injections of sulfuric acid … are difficult to control and that the company’s plan, “dooms wells, water supplies, seeps and habitat areas in the immediate vicinity and for many miles distant, for inestimable time frames.”

The state’s response is embodied in a draft statement of Erica Brown Gaddis, director of the Utah Division of Water Quality. As part of the state’s response to the EPA, “She recommended the federal agency approve [the mining company’s] request that the aquifer where the proposed mining will take place be exempt from standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

Salt Lake Tribune, thank you for helping me better understand the Utah Way: The state Legislature is the only “local leadership” group with the knowledge and experience to determine what is best for Utah citizens and we cannot let any health issues or personal impacts slow down the growth of our economy or harvesting of our natural resources. That’s the “Utah Way.”

Brad Hardy

Brad Hardy, a lifelong Utahn who believes that in a one-party state the powers are overly rewarded, and the others are left behind.

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