"House Republican Caucus seeks fun-loving individuals to share warm winter evening." That invitation appeared in a recent e-mail that Utah House Majority Leader Jeff Alexander sent to legislators and lobbyists. House Republican leaders endorsed the "speed dating" idea as a fund-raiser. On Jan. 5, lobbyists who’ve donated to political action committees will each get a few minutes one-on-one with a legislator; then the lobbyist will move on to the next (HCN, 11/28/05: In Washington, the most outrageous sins are legal). Rep. Kory Holdaway, R-Taylorsville, called the whole thing "disgusting."
Good news: The Environmental Protection Agency
is cleaning up fewer Superfund sites (HCN, 1/19/98:
Superfund strives for accountability). According to EPA spokeswoman
Kerry Humphrey, the agency completed 40 projects in fiscal year
2005, compared to the 80 it averaged each year between 1997 and
2000. Humphrey says the reduction reflects the "maturing" of the
agency. Critics attribute the decline to the Bush
administration’s funding cuts and to the expiration of the
"polluter pays" tax in 1995.
In Fallon, Nev., population
8,000, 16 cases of childhood leukemia have been documented since
1997; three of the victims have died (HCN, 3/31/03: The hunt is on
for a mystery killer). University of Arizona scientists recently
tested the skies over Fallon and nearby communities for heavy
metals suspected to cause cancer, and found that Fallon
residents are breathing significantly more tungsten and cobalt than
are people in neighboring towns. The Kennametal plant,
located 10 miles north of Fallon, processed tungsten carbide
without air pollution controls from 1974 through 1994.
Drill a well, bag a buck; it’s all in a day’s
work for some roughnecks working on drill rigs in
southwest Wyoming. Wyoming Game and Fish officials are worried
about a recent spate of poaching near oil and gas fields. A former
rig worker admitted killing a mule deer, an antelope and four sage
grouse while working on a coalbed methane well site near Rock
Springs. Game and Fish and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming are
discussing ways to help solve the problem, such as prohibiting
employees from bringing guns to work (HCN, 8/18/03: Where the
Antelope (and the Oil Companies) Play).