HB 288, just passed in the Utah Senate and now before the House, would legalize gravel quarry operations to continue and to expand regardless of local government input. This type of overt big-government/big-industry partnership for corporate and legislator profit lays waste to our political agency at the local government level, and craters our confidence in good government. HB 288 should get the no vote.
Bluff, where I live, lies within a Bermuda Triangle of active and inactive gravel pits where clean air often disappears during active mining. Unlike Bermuda, though, breezes carrying silicates far and wide are no mystery. Neither are the pits operators leave behind, some acres in diameter, defying any living thing besides tumbleweeds to take up residence. At the very least, it is not appropriate for a local government entity to lack permitting authority for this type of mining, which is a blight when too near residences.
Legislative Sponsor Logan Wilde (Croyden) apparently believes gravelocracy in our State is a great idea. Wilde himself claims loyalty to HB 288 because he claims to care deeply about “critical infrastructure” and needed construction in Utah’s growing communities. Even so, the facts suggest his motivation is peddling enabling legislation to LaFargeHolcim U.S., the parent corporation mining his family-owned ranch in Morgan County. This corporation has a number of gravel operations. Bill 288 legalizes the override of most local zoning for gravel mining.
Current law allows community zoning to limit gravel operations. The Wilde idea in HB288 would allow gravel operations freedom from most zoning that currently allows local government entities to reject having to suck up bad air and a further-cratered landscape. There are lots of good reasons why Wilde Bill 288 should end where it began, in a Morgan gravel pit. At the very least for the sake of Utahn’s belief in local control, we should kill HB 288.