As Utah's members of Congress plotted how to salvage the Central Utah Project after a bill to keep it afloat died, they at least took solace in several other bills important to the state that passed in the rush before Congress adjourned Sunday.
They range from giving much of Fort Douglas to the University of Utah, adding another federal judge for the state, protecting some Utah computer companies from copyright infringement, allowing several important Utah land swaps and approving more than $130 million worth of federal transportation, military and public lands proj-ects in the state.Also, Utah members of Congress won many national battles they waged over such topics as arts and obscenity, child care and preventing a quintupling of grazing fees on public lands - which would have put many Utah ranchers out of business.
Following is a rundown of major weekend congression-al activity affecting Utah:
Central Utah Project
After a bill to ensure completion of the CUP went down the drain in the final minutes of the 101st Congress, Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, quickly said they plan to reintroduce a similar bill on the first day of the 102nd Congress when it meets in January.
Meanwhile, Utah water officials said this year's failure to obtain more CUP spending authority would have little immediate effect. Enough money is already available to finish the Jordanelle Dam and part of the municipal and industrial water delivery system.
And even if Congress decides never to pass a bill to allow higher debt limits to complete the CUP, some still saw silver linings.
For example, Utah water users legally would not be obligated to repay federal funds already spent. In that case, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District would probably have to negotiate purchase of the system from the federal government and complete it with local money. The net cost could be far lower than finishing the project as planned.
But if a CUP completion bill is not passed - and Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said Sunday that 1990 had been CUP's "last, best chance" - a large package of environmental projects within CUP would not be funded, nor would planned irrigation features. And money to compensate the Ute Indian Tribe for project water would have to be found.
Since the delegation agreed on a final form of the CUP reauthorization earlier this year, there has been little disagreement over the details of CUP itself - but it was wrapped into an omnibus water bill containing several controversial items that ended up killing the whole package.
Congress gave final approval to a Utah delegation bill to transfer 55 acres of the 119-acre fort to the University of Utah. Remaining portions of the base will be used by the Army Reserve.
In lieu of payment for the property, the university will give up its legal right to withdraw 4,200 additional acres of federal land available from earlier laws.
Congress approved a land exchange to remove private property from the middle of live-fire ranges.
It will allow the trade of 967 acres of privately owned land within the boundaries of the camp for about 840 acres outside the camp. The bill was sponsored by Garn in the Senate and Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, in the House.
Congress killed a House-passed proposal to quintuple the grazing fees on public lands. Many ranchers in Utah - where two-thirds of the land is federally owned - claimed it would put them out of business. Environmental groups claimed ranchers were unfairly subsidized and were also allowing overgrazing.
New Utah judge
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, added language to a judiciary bill to add a fifth federal judge to Utah. Hatch, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that the state had only two federal judges when he was first elected 14 years ago.
Computer software protection act
Congress passed a bill by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to prohibit short-term rental of computer software, with some exceptions.
Hatch said it should help prevent losses to Utah companies such as WordPerfect and Novelle from people who rent programs only to make illegal copies.
Help for Utah contact-lens makers
Hatch passed a bill to ease government regulations of contact lenses - which had been more strict than heart defibrillators, surgical lasers and anesthesia machines.
Hatch said those regulations gave a virtual monopoly to large manufacturers, who were the only ones who could afford them. He said the easier regulations will help smaller companies, such as Earl Saltzgiver's Foremost Contact Lenses in Utah.
Salt Lake City watershed
Congress approved a land trade between Salt Lake City and the U.S. Forest Service to better protect the watershed in the Wasatch Mountain canyons.
It will end a checkerboard pattern of ownership be-tween the two entities in City Creek, Red Butte, Emigra-tion and Parleys canyons.
While some may call it pork barrel, the Utah delegation praised $100 million worth of military construction approved for Utah bases. It includes:
- $61.2 million for continued construction of a Tooele Army Depot facility to destroy aging chemical arms. That base stores 42 percent of the nation's chemical arsenal.
- $25.3 million for new Hill Air Force Base facilities, including a new $16 million depot warehouse; $6.5 million for an MX missile stage facility and an MX-ordnance storage facility; and $2.8 million for an intercontinental ballistic missile non-destructive inspection bunker.
- $12.2 million to construct three buildings for National Guard helicopter aviation support at Salt Lake City Municipal Airport No. 2 in West Jordan.
- $3.4 million for a dining/medical training facility for the Air National Guard in Salt Lake City.
- $1.07 million to improve the firing range at Camp Williams.
- $450,000 for a Dugway Proving Ground facility to mix simulants for chemical/biological warfare defense testing.
Nearly $12 million for three important Utah projects was approved, including:
- $4.25 million to begin conversion of U.S. 89 between Farmington and Ogden into a freeway. It is currently the most deadly highway in Utah because of the 125 roads and private driveways that intersect the busy stretch.
- $5 million for advanced right-of-way acquisition, engineering and design for a light-rail trolley system along the I-15 corridor in Salt Lake County. Garn said $11 million in federal money has been spent on the project in previous years.
- $2.55 million to build a bridge over railroad tracks on Ninth South in Provo.
Congress approved $25 million worth of projects on public lands in Utah, including:
- $4.9 million to continue construction of a visitors center in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. "I am pleased we will be able to continue our efforts to upgrade the shabby, run-down trailer that cur-rently serves as a visitors center at Canyonlands," Garn said.
- $1.052 million to rehabilitate the Bear River Bird Refuge, which has been damaged by years of flooding by the Great Salt Lake.
- $970,000 for boat-ramp extensions at Lake Powell marinas including Stateline, Dangling Rope and Hite because of low water levels.
- A roughly $10 million share for Utah in a $105 million federal payments-in-lieu-of-taxes program to compensate counties and other local governments for services on non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries.
- $350,000 for a U.S. Bureau of Land Management pollution control program for recreational areas near Moab to help mitigate trash and other pollution caused by increasing numbers of bicyclists and river runners.
- A share for Utah State University as one of several facilities participating in a $5.55 million national water research institutes program.
- $2.84 million for University of Utah projects including $1 million for tar sands research; $140,000 for its mineral institute program; and a share of a $1.7 million fossil fuel liquefaction research project by a consortium of five schools.
Worth noting is that Utah members won several of their long battles over national issues as Congress adjourned. Among them:
- Child-care legislation. Hatch finally achieved passage of a long-proposed child-care bill.
"The best thing to come out of an otherwise dismal budget bill was the passage of child-care legislation," Hatch said. "The measure, almost word for word of the earlier Hatch-Johnson bill, will expand child-care assistance through block grants to states and will give larger tax credits to low-income families."
- Arts funding. Hatch also had approved a compromise to keep afloat the embattled National Endowment for the Arts. His compromises leaves the decision of what is obscene to the courts but requires federally funded projects ruled to be obscene to refund their money.
- Clean-air act. Nielson, who is retiring and spent much of his final months in a long series of meetings on the Clean Air Act, also saw it finally enacted as Congress adjourned.