POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Senator Mitt Romney says we should be doing more to combat drought

May 22, 2024, 7:01 PM

Senator Mitt Romney addresses ongoing drought conditions in Utah during a Budget Committee hearing ...

Senator Mitt Romney addresses ongoing drought conditions in Utah during a Budget Committee hearing May 22, 2024. (Mitt Romney via YouTube)

(Mitt Romney via YouTube)

WASHINGTON D.C. — Senator Mitt Romney is taking a look at how money is being spent on drought-related issues.

Romney sat in on the Senate Budget Committee meeting Wednesday morning, examining how drought is driving up prices, impacting local economies and costing the federal budget.

“Estimates are that this is the longest period of drought in the last hundreds of years, going back to 1500,” he said. “The last couple of winters, we’ve had some relief, but that doesn’t begin to overwhelm the challenges we have.” 

The senator says the Environmental and Natural resources committee might be a better fit for this topic, but he hopes the budget committee can work with them to deal with the 1.5 trillion dollar deficit.

“If we don’t deal with that, we won’t have the resources to be able to deal with emerging crises as they develop as a result of climate change and economic disruption of various kinds,” he said. 

Romney says Utah has taken lots of measures to conserve water and save money, like changing laws surrounding water rights and re-using water in creative ways.

He referred to the Utah Legislature’s work to adapt water rights legislation.

“But it continues to be a real challenge,” he said. “I guess I’d thought, as not a climate scientist… That with all the warming, there’d be more rain and things would get wetter.”

Input from other states

Romney asked experts from other states how agriculture can and should adapt to the changes brought on by weather variabilities.

Kevin Richards, an Oregon farmer said the primary thing agriculturalists can do is to constantly adapt. 

“[It’s about] doing more with less. We’re very good at adapting,” he said. “It’s not just about scarcity, it’s the variability and unpredictability of water shortages.” 

He said the solutions he’s found all rely on investing in more efficient infrastructure, to manage water “more collaboratively.”

Dr. Michael Castellano, with Iowa State University, said the problem they are dealing with is “precipitation extremes.”

He said they are focusing on improving drainage infrastructure and drainage recycling efforts, which also benefit crop productivity.

Read more: As Great Salt Lake nears key level, Utah finds inspiration elsewhere to help lake’s recovery

KSL NewsRadio’s Emma Keddington contributed to this story. 

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Senator Mitt Romney says we should be doing more to combat drought