Letter to the Editor: Rural Utah matters
I think your opinion/news piece of Feb. 6 should be re-printed in every rural newspaper and be required reading for every resident of rural Utah. When I first moved to rural Emery County I used to joke that the political establishment in Salt Lake City believed that life ended at the entrance to Spanish Fork canyon and began again at the northern most city limits of Cedar City; seven years later I'm no longer laughing...this appears to be close to the truth. Your piece underscores the reality of our situation in rural Utah; we have no real advocacy in state government/government agencies the "...we don't care (about rural Utah)" attitude of the Committee of Consumer Services exemplifies this. The Committee's charter is to represent all small business and residential customers before the Public Service Commission, yet it is apparent by their attitude, composition, and actions that all is inclusive of all urban small businesses and residential customers and is exclusive of their rural cousins. Reliable, affordable electricity, water, and natural gas are essential to the economic well-being and quality of life for all of Utah's residents and should be available to all residents, rural and urban, on the same basis and, as you've pointed out in your piece, should be provided under the same model as roads; out of a central state-wide fund. No one would suggest that state roads be provided only to those communities that can pay for them nor that police or fire services provided only to those who provide a subscription fee for these services then neither should it be imposed that communities be provided with this essential of modern life (natural gas) only if they fund the necessary infra-structure themselves on an individual basis.
The Governor's Energy Policy states "...Oil and natural gas products have been 'staples' of Utah's energy economy and development. Both activities bring benefits to rural economies in terms of economic development and also deliver revenues to the State through severance taxes and royalties." Perhaps rural Utah ought to demand that all the economic benefits derived from these "staples" be returned only to those rural areas from which they are derived to support only their infrastructure needs which would include such things as rural (natural) gasification and/or perhaps an additional state-wide energy use surcharge that is returned to the energy producing counties to fund such things.
In any event it is apparent that the anti-rural bias that exists in the state capital will continue so long as the residents of rural Utah continue to tacitly accept it.