Why Moab is so noisy, hedge funds eye Colorado River water and a uranium quid pro quo

February's southeast Utah news highlights from the Canyon Echo.

I traveled to Moab last week to report on an issue that is driving residents crazy: round-the-clock noise from packs of off-road UTV’s treating city streets like “a go-kart track” and a state law that prohibits local officials from taking action.

One lifelong Moab resident, who recently became a father, said the sound of the vehicles cuts right through the walls of his new straw bale home in an affordable housing development, often after midnight. “It made me stress so hard I’ve chipped my teeth,” he said.

His baby can’t sleep and he wears noise-canceling headphones in the house. Why it’s so loud in Moab.

Earlier in February, I reported on the dire situation in the Colorado River basin, where a dismal winter snow pack is causing water managers to scramble while Wall Street speculators circle. Hedge funds have been buying farm land across the Southwest in an effort to create a private market on water speculation.

“I’ve been involved in water for a long, long time,” said Gene Shawcroft, Utah’s Upper Colorado River Commissioner. “I don’t see room for private speculation on Colorado River water — or water anywhere, for that matter.”

Exclusive: Hedge funds eye water markets that could net billions, as levels drop in Lake Powell

I also dug through campaign finance filings for members of Congress who championed the creation of a $75 million, taxpayer-funded stockpile for domestically mined uranium, which environmental groups have characterized as an “industry bailout.”

Executives and board members at Energy Fuels, a company incorporated in Canada and headquartered in Colorado that has interests in Utah, donated over $50,000 to lawmakers over the last five years. The donations often correlated with pro-industry actions being taken by the members of Congress.

For example, on Feb. 7, 2018, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal arguing in favor of government support for uranium companies mining in the United States. That same day, 15 individuals and two political action committees with ties to the uranium industry donated nearly $12,000 to Barrasso’s Senate campaign.

Accountable.US (formerly known as the Western Values Project) featured the reporting in a press release titled, “Exposed: Senator Barrasso's Special Interest Quid Pro Quo.”

Read the full story here:

Campaign contributions, including from a Utah operator, preceded creation of federal uranium stockpile

Quick Hits

Note: This newsletter is moving from Substack to The Salt Lake Tribune next month. If you’re already on the mailing list, you don’t need to take any action. If you’re not and would like to be, sign up here. Thanks for the support!