Judy Fahys

Reporter

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.

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Judy Fahys/KUER

Money issues have prompted a temporary slowdown of work in eastern Utah on the first tar sands mine in the U.S.

Mountain Accord / Facebook

The collaborative behind a new plan for the central Wasatch is getting ready to untangle the Cottonwood canyons’ traffic jams. They’re looking at buses as the quickest solution for now.

707d3k / Flickr Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says it’s time for the Utah Legislature to reopen the discussion about reproductive health.

Minority Leader Brian King is a Democrat representing Salt Lake City, and he's is also the father of four daughters. With them in mind, he wants age-appropriate facts about sex to be available to students. His new bill calls for comprehensive sex education in Utah junior high and high schools.

State environmental regulators want input from Utahns about reducing the pollution blamed for climate change.

Utah’s joined 24 other states to fight the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in court.

At the same time, state regulators have been drafting a state plan to comply with the new rules.

Courtesy: / U.S. Bureau of Land Management

State leaders and a congressman pledged on Friday to keep fighting Washington on behalf of rural Utah.

The governor and lieutenant governor both served on county commissions early in their careers. So it was no surprise on “Rural Legislative Day” at the State Capitol that they promised to back up local leaders on issues like boosting jobs and education. And, like them, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop said he’ll keep taking rural Utah’s side against what they call federal overreach.

Screenshot / Facebook

A leader of the armed occupation at an Oregon wildlife refuge urged his supporters on Thursday to avoid further bloodshed. Now observers are wondering how the issues will play out.

Judy Fahys/KUER

A Senate panel signed off Wednesday on using sales taxes to help pay for water projects, including the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Federal regulators visited Salt Lake City Tuesday to hear from Utahns about how to deal with the haze that plagues national parks of the West. People from Utah’s coal country and its environmental community gave U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials an earful of advice Tuesday.

Judy Fahys/KUER

The Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court assured lawmakers Monday the state of Utah’s judiciary is sound. But he requested some needed improvements, too.

Judy Fahys/KUER

The 2016 General Session of the Utah Legislature begins Monday, and lawmakers already have more than a dozen initiatives on their agenda aimed at improving air quality.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Climate scientists said this week that 2015 was the warmest year on record globally and the second warmest in the United States. And Utah was relatively toasty, too.

Data from the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University shows last year was the 3rd warmest in around 130 years of counting. At an average of 51.2 degrees Fahrenheit for the year, that’s 4.4 degrees warmer than average.

Judy Fahys/KUER

A comprehensive land-use proposal for eastern Utah made its public debut Wednesday -- three years after Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, began stitching together support in rural Utah between disparate user groups.

Dugway Proving Ground

A watchdog group says Utahns should be keeping tabs on operations at Dugway Proving Ground after the test center for biological and chemical weapons in Tooele County was stripped of its mission to produce anthrax for other labs to use.

Screenshot / Utah Office of Energy Development

Utahns had a mixed response to the announcement Friday that the Interior Department’s launching an in-depth review of federal coal programs.

Screenshot, 3:14 p.m. Jan. 14, 2016: / purpleair.org

The fight over dust from a Salt Lake Valley gravel pit has produced a new network of air-quality monitors all along the Wasatch Front.

Bryan Jones / Flickr Creative Commons

Delivering drinking water to 350,000 customers, catching stormwater, moving wastewater and keeping the streetlights on aren’t exactly action-hero tasks.  But Jeff Niermeyer prevented a local environmental disaster from becoming an international one nearly six years ago. That’s when thick crude oil poured from a Chevron pipeline, down Red Butte Creek and through the heart of the city into Liberty Park.

Judy Fahys/KUER

The search for solutions to Utah’s winter pollution episodes has focused on industrial smokestacks and the tailpipes of cars and trucks. But homes and businesses represent a big  and growing  part of the problem. They're  called “area sources” and KUER wanted to find out why it’s so hard to cut their emissions.

Colorado River Basin Forecast Center Screenshot

The skies have been generous to Utah in the past few weeks, sprinkling the entire state with more snow and rain than normal. But that’s only part of the story about Utah’s water conditions.

“Our snow situation for today,” says Greg Smith, senior hydrologist for the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center, “it doesn’t look too bad.”

National Park Service Web Page

Outdoor industry leaders unveiled plans Thursday for celebrating the upcoming centennial of the national parks.

The Outdoor Retailer winter trade show is back in Salt Lake City this week, bringing together around 25,000 representatives from companies that make clothing and equipment for outdoor recreation, along with advocacy groups that promote public lands protection.

The armed occupation in Oregon has caused a rift in Utah within a little known political party, the Independent American Party, with deep ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Central to the disagreement is Kelly Gneiting, who was dismayed when the church issued a statement earlier this week condemning the occupiers’ tactics. To him, they’re fighting for Constitutional and Divine principles.

A one-of-its-kind science experiment is in the making as the northern arm of the Great Salt Lake hits its lowest level in modern history.

Thirteen miles of railroad track stretches between Promontory Point and Lakeside on the western shore of the Great Salt Lake, and the rock causeway supporting those tracks has made water levels fall in the lake’s northern arm to the lowest level ever measured. Water in the south arm is now two feet higher.

Whittney Evans / KUER News

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker was part of the U.S. delegation to the Paris climate talks earlier this month. He’s had a little time now to reflect on the discussions -- and the historic agreement to limit the pollution that’s speeding up global warming. KUER's Judy Fahys sat down with the mayor as he prepares to leave office to find out why he participated and what's at stake for Salt Lake City in dealing with climate change.

Flickr Creative Commons

Pollution levels in the final days of 2015 could sway federal regulators who are thinking about a pollution crackdown in northern Utah, while environmental groups say the cleanup should be tougher and faster.

Utah State Auditor's Office

Utah’s dependence on federal funds has declined since 2010, according to a new report by the state auditor.

Every year State Auditor John Dougall is required to scrutinize the federal dollars that state agencies use. It’s the state’s largest single funding source – more than sales or income taxes -- and it’s going down in the short term.

Judy Fahys/KUER

They’ve filled the room with evergreen scent. They’ve filled families with Christmas cheer. Now those live Christmas trees can serve yet another purpose – as compost.   

The tree-composting campaign is part of a broader program in the Salt Lake Valley to encourage all forms of recycling.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, has been getting ready to track Santa’s travels Christmas Eve.

Lt. Marco Chouinard at the agency’s Santa-tracking headquarters in Colorado Springs says that the same tools used every day to identify missiles or space objects will be deployed by NORAD operators to follow Santa on his delivery route.

Linde Cater / National Park Service

The first draft of a proposal to construct a giant straw from Lake Powell to southwestern Utah has landed on the desk of federal regulators just as new concerns about the project are being raised in the State Capitol.

John Fowler / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal regulators are weighing a decision on Utah’s plan for cleaning up haze around the national parks.

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for public input on two haze reduction plans. One’s been proposed by the Utah Division of Air Quality.

Judy Fahys/KUER

U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer sentenced San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman to ten days in jail and three years of probation. The charges stem from leading dozens of ATV protestors into an archeologically rich canyon last year that the federal government had closed to motorized vehicles.

Don Sharaf / American Avalanche Institute

  Three days of snow has reminded Utah of what life’s like in a mountain state after last year’s paltry winter.

Jim Steenburgh , a University of Utah atmospheric scientist, wrote the book Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth, and he’s known online as Professor Powder. Like many Utahns, he was pleased with this week’s three-day snowstorm.

“It was great,” he says. “I enjoyed it.”

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