The Great Salt Lake Project recognizes policy innovation as the most promising avenue to effectuate the meaningful change that the lake so desperately needs. Therefore, the Great Salt Lake Policy Accelerator (“Policy Accelerator”) is vital to the Great Salt Lake Project’s lasting success.
A key focus of the Policy Accelerator is its emphasis on the law. It will identify and explain legal risks and implications associated with the ailing Great Salt Lake. By doing so, the Policy Accelerator encourages policymakers to prioritize and accelerate conservation policy and improve water management within the Great Salt Lake Basin. Understanding that urgent action is needed to bring water to the Great Salt Lake, the Policy Accelerator seeks to bolster collective action and provide innovative policy solutions to save and sustain the lake.
An urgent need for additional action
The Policy Accelerator’s approach can be described as “a marathon that begins with a sprint.” This perspective reflects the critical balance between the immediate need for substantial change and implementing sustained efforts to ensure the long-term viability of the lake. Following decades of extensive research and numerous governmental reports highlighting the Great Salt Lake’s fragility and decline, the State of Utah, various local and county authorities, and concerned community members within the lake’s watershed have implemented modifications to law and policy to encourage water conservation. However, the health of the lake—the ultimate barometer of success—still presents existential risks to the community and ecologies connected to the Great Salt Lake. The jarring gap between action and quantifiable change underscores the need for additional rapid and enduring solutions. We have years, not decades, to make major headway on saving the lake.
The Policy Accelerator’s focus
Operating under the assumption that local, state, and federal policymakers are working in good faith to solve the challenges facing the Great Salt Lake, the Policy Accelerator provides actionable, law-based, policy recommendations intended to expedite reform necessary to save the lake. These proposals are designed to address and mitigate the most immediate risks facing the lake by embracing the program’s philosophy of working quickly to achieve lasting change.
Solutions to save the Great Salt Lake are complex and require a strategic, multifaceted approach. The Policy Accelerator will produce a series of comprehensive research papers and reports detailing legally-sound, politically feasible policies focused on water conservation and increasing water to the lake. These policy options will be applicable to local, state, and federal levels of governance.
Following the development of policy proposals, the Policy Accelerator will actively engage with relevant stakeholders and policymakers, fostering collaborative efforts for policy adoption and educating individuals on the benefits of implementing these solutions. The Policy Accelerator will play an important role in shaping public discourse surrounding the Great Salt Lake by raising public awareness and understanding of the impact these potential policy solutions could have in restoring the lake.
Student involvement in the Policy Accelerator
Uniquely, the Policy Accelerator relies on the perspective of the next generation of environmental changemakers: S.J. Quinney College of Law students. Law students are actively involved in the program through internships, directed research, and participation in an Environmental Policy Accelerator course focused on the Great Salt Lake. Students in this course engage directly with policymakers and the public, playing an active role in devising strategies to achieve the overarching goal of revitalizing and sustaining the Great Salt Lake.
The Policy Accelerator is a model of innovation in environmental policy. By prioritizing immediate action, long-term strategic planning, and the engagement of a diverse subset of perspectives, the program addresses the urgency of the crisis facing the Great Salt Lake and the need to integrate the long-term sustainability of the lake into policy solutions.
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