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  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Apr 25, 2013 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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Billionaires for energy conservation

News: Apr 25, 2013
by Betsy Marston

MONTANA

"If Montana residents can scrape it up, they can eat it," said The Associated Press, about a roadkill-salvage bill signed by the governor April 4. "It really is a sin to waste good meat," is how Democratic state Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman put it. Elk, deer, antelope and moose are all fair game for retrieval under the bill, though an earlier version would have also included furbearers and some gamebirds. Opponents, however, worried about the safety of the meat: "Despite its good intention, it doesn't pass the smell test for me," explained Sen. Kendall Van Dyk, D-Billings. Still, everyone seemed to agree that, law or no law, few drivers are likely to crash into an edible animal just to avoid a trip to the supermarket. "We don't have very many suicidal drivers," Jent said.

COLORADO

When Pitkin County, home to Aspen, adopted a Renewable Energy Mitigation Program designed to make owners of mega-mansions pay for their electricity load, few people predicted that just one 15,000-square-foot house would generate almost a half-million dollars for the program. Usually, homeowners offset a building's energy use by installing solar panels or geothermal heat pumps, but in this case, reports the Aspen Times, the electrical demands to melt snow from driveways and heat an outdoor pool and spa were just too much: The home's amenities drove the residence over its energy budget. Owners must now pay the county $468,947, which will be used to fund energy conservation projects throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

UTAH

True or false, asks Colby Poulson, who lives in Farmington, Utah: Earth Day was created in 1970 to celebrate all the wonderful ways that our society benefits from mining and burning fossil fuels. If you answered "true," you just might be an elementary school student in that state, thanks to a poster contest sponsored by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining and a group of petroleum engineers. Their information for the contest tells children that without oil, gas and mining, there would be "no electricity, no diamonds and no Disneyland." As for alternative energy and the need to stop air pollution and contain global climate change, there's not a word about that from the contest sponsors. Poulson, the father of a kindergartner, was incensed: "I'm disgusted that the state is backing propaganda like this in our schools, especially after a winter filled with some of the worst air quality we've ever seen," he said in a letter to The Salt Lake Tribune. "It makes me sick."

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