New NPG Forum Paper Examines the Effects of Population Growth in the Mountain West

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Nearly 8 million new residents expected in the next decade.

As increasing population impacts almost every aspect of American life, the varied states of the Mountain West struggle to accept the rising tide of humanity in countless ways.

Negative Population Growth, Inc. has released the latest addition to their NPG Forum series. Authored by Christopher J. Daly, Mountain West Confronts the Population Pressures of the 21st Century, studies the different issues and players involved in the constant battle over how, when, and where western lands can and should be preserved or developed. Daly further explained the issue, stating: “As increasing population impacts almost every aspect of American life, the varied states of the Mountain West struggle to accept the rising tide of humanity in countless ways. State governments must adjust their spending budgets and programs accordingly. Local governments are confronted with the need to quickly provide more roads, sewers, hospitals, and schools – often much sooner than planned. And, in dealing with challenges on the state, regional, or local level, many of these actions will often have some impact on federal lands, with the omnipotent bureaucrats in the federal government constantly present to rule on what can and can’t be done.”

Starting with population trends, Daly spotlights the basics:

“…Idaho’s population will grow at three times the national rate through 2025.”

“Nevada’s status in the top-ten fastest growing states is attributed to a growing exodus of people from California who are escaping high taxes, exorbitant rents, and soaring home prices.”

“Colorado’s population could increase to 8.5 million by 2050.”

With the future in mind, Daly then directs readers to what this growth is likely to effect: Water in the West. He writes: “Indeed, if there is any factor that can and will greatly limit how the Mountain West develops in the decades ahead it will be access to the huge volume of water that will be necessary to not only meet individuals’ daily needs, but also the substantial needs of farming, grazing, mining, and recreational activities that form the economic backbone of this vast area.”

Alongside water concerns is the complicated reality that there are many agencies, groups, and individuals with a seat at the table. Daly neatly addresses the issue, saying: “The major adversaries in this highly-charged controversy are the federal government and the states. On the sidelines, yet very influential, are energy companies, environmentalists, and scores of other special interests determined to advance their individual agendas. And in this highly-charged debate, the citizens of the eight states in the Mountain West are extremely vocal in working toward the shared goal to protect the cherished land that surrounds them.”

Concerns facing the Mountain West, such as growth, sustainability, and control, are big issues without immediate resolutions. However, Daly remains positive, declaring: “It is not too late for the myriad stakeholders who want to ‘rescue’ the Mountain West from the perils of an ever-expanding population to raise their collective voices, stand strong against the ‘growth at any cost’ crowd, and put in place sensible, effective, and responsible rules that would slow, halt and eventually reverse population growth.”

Daly concludes his paper by stating: “In all, those who hold the decision-making power today will decide the fate of the Mountain West during the 21st century. They must make the tough decisions to turn their jurisdictions around before it’s too late. By doing so, they will put the Mountain West on a journey to a safer, less populated, and environmentally-sustainable destiny.”

Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level – far lower than today’s. We do not simply identify the problems – we propose solutions. For more information, visit our website at http://www.NPG.org, follow us on Facebook @NegativePopulationGrowth or follow us on Twitter @npg_org.

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Craig Lewis
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