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Opinion: Utah needs to stop prioritizing economic growth over its own people

Utah has the best economy in the nation, but who is paying the price? Utah residents don’t have much room among all these businesses

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Lehi, Utah, business office buildings with a parking lot and busy roads.

Businesses flock to Utah in droves, but can the desert state sustain it? Our housing crisis and drought might be worsened if more businesses keep coming.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah is a desert state. Climate and weather go in cycles. Houses consume more water than sagebrush. Asphalt doesn’t grow food, fiber or fodder.

For decades, Utah leaders have promoted economic development. That need is long gone. We have Silicon Slopes, the inland port, corporate offices and national headquarters for many companies. And, due to in-migration, a housing shortage: Utah population has grown by 8.4% in 10 years. Based on the 2020 census, nearly 40% of Utah residents are born outside Utah. We are hitting the limits of growth our desert state can sustain.

Some say too much water is consumed by farming. But where do we get our food? It takes cattle, land and water. Can we get it all out of state? What about the environmental cost of hauling all that food?

It’s time we stop promoting and supporting — with Utah taxes — economic growth. We don’t need more businesses moving in. Utah’s Department of Natural Resources reports that each Utahn uses 242 gallons of water per day. In contrast, sagebrush needs only what nature provides.

Our leaders need to stop promoting Utah to businesses, stop encouraging urban growth and say no to land developers.

Steven Jones