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Mitt Romney shares thoughts on water, Utah Tech during visit to St. George – St George News

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ST. GEORGE — While visiting Southern Utah as a part of a tour to various parts of the state, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney stopped by St. George News and parent company Canyon Media on Tuesday to share what he was doing in this corner of the state while also speaking to issues of local and national interests.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with Canyon Media radio personality Carl Lamar on St. George Radio about issues of local and national interests while visiting St. George, Utah, Aug. 16, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St George News

Romney first joined longtime Canyon Media radio personality Carl Lamar for a discussion on the air followed soon after by an interview with St. George News.

“I wanted to get a chance to see what the weather is doing here and what kind of climate we’re experiencing and how it’s affecting the community here,” Romney said when asked what brought him to St. George.

“I also wanted to talk to some local businesses and spend some time at Utah Tech (University) and see what their vision is for the future for their institution and for the region. … It’s very, very impressive.”

Romney visited Utah Tech on Monday evening and went with county water officials to tour the Intermountain Precision Genomics facility on Tuesday. His run through the state will take him back to the Wasatch Front on Wednesday.

Utah’s junior senator was able to take time away from his job in Washington, D.C. thanks to the annual recess Congress has each August.

The Utah Tech name

The Bruce Hurst Baseball Field at Utah Tech University, St. George, Utah, July 8, 2022 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Dovetailing off mentions of Utah Tech, St. George News asked Romney for his thoughts on the university’s new name.

“I think there’s a recognition that Utah Tech is increasingly focused on the STEM subjects and developing engineers and chemists and people that are going into medicine,” he said. “It’s going to have a more of a technological orientation than perhaps the average university in Utah or in the country.”

As the university continues to pursue its goal to become more of a polytech-style institution, the new name makes more sense in that regard, Romney added.

The rebrand of the former Dixie State University to Utah Tech University and the process leading up to it has been a hot topic among supporters and detractors of the institution’s previous name. While supporters say the original name is a cherished nod to local heritage, opponents see the Dixie name in a more negative light due to connections to the Antebellum South, slavery and the Confederacy.

“I don’t have a problem with the word Dixie,” Romney said. “I think Dixie is a fine name, but Utah Tech I think is a good descriptor of where the university intends to focus its attention.”

The perpetual topic of water and the Lake Powell Pipeline

Water lines are visible around Lake Powell, looking toward Glen Canyon Dam, Page, Arizona, June 10, 2022 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

Recently the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation told the states that share the Colorado River – Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico (the Upper Basin states) and California, Nevada and Arizona (the Lower Basin states) – to come to a consensus on cutting river water use by 15% or more due to dwindling river flows. If the states fail to make a decision, then Reclamation would make it for them – and has, according the Associated Press.

One deadline for consensus has come and gone with Arizona, Nevada and Mexico now facing another round of cuts in water use as federal officials strive to keep Lake Mead and Lake Powell viable while also preserving hydroelectric power generation out of Glen Canyon Dam.

“If the federal government has to step in, I think that would be unfortunate because when the federal government steps in, they’re not as well informed,” Romney said prior to BuRec’s announcement on pending cuts Tuesday.

As a federal agency, the Bureau of Reclamation can be subject to political influence from whichever party is in power at the time, Romney said, adding he’d much rather see the decision left in the hands of the states directly involved.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney speaks with Canyon Media radio personality Carl Lamar on St. George Radio about issues of local and national interests while visiting St. George, Utah, Aug. 16, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St George News

“And frankly, Utah has not been taking full advantage of the water rights we have, and has been allowing other states – California in particular – to get more than would otherwise be available to California, and California is going to want all that water. It’s gotten used to taking it,” he said.

“But given the drought we have, it’s going to mean some changes for (the Colorado Basin states). I also think we have to look, if you will, a little creatively at some other options for bringing in water from other places.”

Whatever measures are taken and changes are made going forward, Romney said they’re not going to be cheap yet need to be pursued in addition to water conservation practices.

As for the Lake Powell Pipeline, the senator said Lake Powell is so low right now that the pipeline project isn’t likely to be at the forefront of water regulators’ consideration.

“We will continue to see it (Lake Powell) go down,” he said. “That (pipeline) will become a hot issue again and will be a viable alternative for Washington County. But I think when the water level is so low, that’s not something that’s going to be part of the immediate solution.”

Utah goes to the Little World Series

In this file photo, Snow Canyon’s Little League team representing Utah at the Mountain Regionals, San Bernardino, Calif., Aug. 11, 2022 | Photo courtesy Jessica Ruffell, St. George News

The Snow Canyon Little League All-Stars baseball team recently beat Nevada’s Paseo Verde Little League team and will play in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The games start Wednesday and run through Aug. 28.

As this is the first time Utah has sent a team to the Little League World Series, the Snow Canyon team has drawn congratulations and recognition from the likes of Donavan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz to Gov. Spencer Cox, and now Utah’s junior senator.

“This is a this is spectacular,” he said. “And of course, you know, we’ve got great athletes here. Great energy, great passion, teamwork, sacrifice, dedication … some of the best athletes in the world. I’m not surprised to see our Utah athletes going to the championship. That’s gonna be fantastic.”

This is the first of two articles covering Sen. Mitt Romney’s visit to Canyon Media and St. George News. This article has centered around issues with a local and regional interest, while the second will focus more on national issues and the senator’s work in Washington, D.C.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

Mori Kessler serves as a Senior Reporter for St. George News, having previously contributed as a writer and Interim Editor in 2011-12, and an assistant editor from 2012 to mid-2014. He began writing news as a freelancer in 2009 for Today in Dixie, and joined the writing staff of St. George News in mid-2010. He enjoys photography and won an award for photojournalism from the Society of Professional Journalists for a 2018 photo of a bee inspector removing ferals bees from a Washington City home. He is also a shameless nerd and has a bad sense of direction.

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