The 2002 Winter Olympics open tomorrow in Salt Lake City, and not everybody’s thrilled about it. Environmentalists say developers took advantage of the games to permanently damage the pristine Rocky Mountain environment, even though protecting the natural world is now the third precept — after sports and culture — of the Olympics. The Salt Lake Olympic Committee set goals of zero waste, zero emissions, and the planting of 18 million trees, but Tom Price, chair of the Olympics environmental advisory committee, thinks the SLOC fell short: Forests have been clear-cut to make way for ski runs, and when it came to eco-friendly transportation to accommodate 70,000 spectators a day, the committee dropped the ball. “Not just dropped it, but kicked it out the window, then burned and buried it,” Price said. At least one person, though, has walked away with the gold: Utah oil man R. Earl Holding, who bought tiny Snowbasin Ski Resort in 1984 and, just prior to the Olympics, made a highly controversial land swap with the U.S. Forest Service that will net a pretty penny in the future.
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