Monday, November 29, 2004

the Legacy of environmental lawsuits

Utahns know, and some out of state environmentalists are well aware of the so-called Legacy Highway. This route is supposed to be an alternative to I-15 from Davis Co. to SL Co. (from the 3rd to 1st populated counties in the state). Folks like the Sierra Club were able to block the highway that was going through wetlands because of an inadaqueate environmental impact statement(made in 1997). Many people were upset that SLC mayor Rocky Anderson intervened in the lawsuit in favor of the environmentalists.

That was 2001. The Salt Lake Tribune reports, "Three years later, with nearly $18 million in delay costs racked up, UDOT is prepared to release the results of that supplemental study, which cost around $3 million."

There's a two fold problem on a more macro level: how do you protect the environment and how do you promote commerce and industry effiecently? Our environmental laws are in a way being abused by the Sierra Clubs of the world by blocking projects on technicalities and not the merits. The environmental lobby effectively is raising the costs of building such bridges and highways to a point where people won't build them via court costs. At the same time, if this highway truely does mow down wetlands when they could have built a light rail system or had the highway get a better route away from such areas, shouldn't there be some mechanism to make them do so?

There has to be a better way.

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