Is Obama’s Gain the Great Basin’s Loss?

Posted on | May 16, 2009 | 2 Comments

NOT EVERY American politician happens to be fluent in Mandarin. But Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is; he served his LDS mission in Taiwan. He is also no stranger to international industry. His father founded the Huntsman Corporation, which became a global chemical company whose products most of  us know in the form of the Big Mac clamshell container. So President Obama’s choice of  the Republican governor of Utah for ambassador to China is no surprise.

But regionally in rural Utah, Nevada and California, Gov Huntsman has an arguably rarer fluency — with western water. Utah’s West Desert counties running parallel to the Eastern Nevada valleys targeted by the Las Vegas pipeline plan have no more influential ally than the Mormon Governor. Those counties staunchly oppose the Las Vegas pipeline. In a tour of the West Desert last year, Gov. Huntsman told ranchers assembled in Delta, Millard County, “I want you to know my resolve. … if I’m on the wrong side of Millard County, my ancestors would be spinning in their graves … I don’t care how many people live in the West Desert, whether it’s 5, 20 or 200, we have a way of life that must be protected.” 

An hour after posting the above comments, this came in from Steve Erickson of the Great Basin Water Network: “Soon to be [UT] Governor Gary Herbert ‘is prepared to fight Nevada.’ ” See story in the Salt Lake Tribune.

(For blow by blow events on the politics of the Las Vegas pipeline go to the Great Basin Water Network, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret Morning News, the Las Vegas Sun, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.)


UT Gov. Jon Huntsman meeting West Desert ranchers concerned over the impacts of the proposed Las Vegas pipeline to the Great Basin. Delta, UT, July 23, 2008

Huntsman family photographs

UT Gov Jon Huntsman's ancestors, whose photos hang in the Utah Territorial Statehouse in Fillmore, Millard Co, UT.


2 Responses to “Is Obama’s Gain the Great Basin’s Loss?”

  1. Saints bow to Vegas, reports LDS newspaper | Chance of Rain
    January 7th, 2010 @ 10:20 am

    […] Is Obama’s gain the Great Basin’s loss? […]

  2. Matt
    January 12th, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    Most likely, yes. It doesn’t seem like much will stand in the way of the Las Vegas juggernaut in de-watering valleys to the north in the name of sprawl. From a purely economic perspective, I’d bet an acre-foot of water generates more revenue at a casino than a sheep ranch. But what of the other costs?

    You don’t need to have a PhD in hydrology to know that exporting millions of gallons a day from places like the Snake Valley and Spring Valley will cause the springs and vernal pools to dry up.

    Too bad the unique populations of fish such as the Utah Chub, the Speckled Dace, and the Cutthroat Trout don’t have a representative in the State House.

    Shame that the waterfowl stopping over on Pacific Flyway, the herons, plovers, and egrets don’t have a powerful ally in politics.

    The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, or PLAN, also has some good resources on the issue, although their “Water for All” page doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2008:

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