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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Utah power companies were already starting to lower greenhouse gas emissions when President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week to roll back the Clean Power Plan.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The snowpack is near normal in a few places and lagging in southeastern Utah. But most drainages are way above average. It’s the first time in 6 years that water managers are worrying about too much water instead of a shortage.

“In 2017, Mother Nature threw us a knuckleball,” says Wayne Pullan, who leads the Bureau of Reclamation’s Provo area office. “A knuckleball is a changeup pitch, and a knuckleball works because it’s unpredictable.”

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Water experts say it’s time for new thinking on the West’s old attitudes about water, as climate change and population growth drive the discussion about the West’s water future.

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The state of Utah and Pacificorp have been quarreling with the federal Environmental Protection Agency over what’s called the Regional Haze Rule, a decades-long effort to clear the vistas around Utah’s national parks.

Then the EPA decided last year that cleaning up southern Utah’s air would mean the company would need to install new, pollution-control equipment on two coal-fired plants in Emery County.

Now Congress is stepping into the fight

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The Utah Air Quality Board, hasn’t asked for a veto in a decade -- until now.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Utah legislators delivered some big messages on public lands during this year’s 45 days of lawmaking. But air-quality and other environmental concerns saw only modest gains – along with some setbacks.

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Senators cleared the way Wednesday for Utah to become the toughest state in the nation when it comes to driving under the influence. They passed a bill, HB155, to lower the state’s blood-alcohol limit to .05 -- the lowest DUI threshold in the nation.

Utah Department of Transportation

Lawmakers finalized an incentive Wednesday for Utah’s refineries to bring cleaner “Tier 3” gasoline to the state.

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The proper use of drugs was at the heart of two bills advanced by Utah senators. Lawmakers had held up both bills until Tuesday to make sure there was money to fund the programs.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Utah Governor Gary Herbert and outdoor-industry leaders met to work out their differences last month during a conference call. If they pulled it off, a big trade show would stay in Salt Lake City. Instead, a 20-year relationship seems headed towards divorce, but is there any chance to save this rocky marriage?

Judy Fahys / KUER News

A Utah House panel killed a resolution on climate change Monday. But supporters were pleased despite its defeat.

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State lawmakers are pausing legal efforts to gain control of federal lands in Utah. They’re pushing for a political solution instead.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

A week’s passed since the Outdoor Retailers trade show announced it’s leaving Salt Lake City after being here two decades. And there are hints the show is trying to leave Utah even before its three-convention contract is up.

Judy Fahys

The protest surrounding the exit of the Outdoor Recreation trade show expanded this week, as local Democrats took the state’s GOP leaders to task outside the Salt Palace Convention Center. They criticized Utah’s Republican leaders for the huge trade show’s decision to leave Salt Lake City when its contract runs out next year.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Almost all the tables were taken Friday at the Toasters Deli facing the Salt Palace Convention Center. But this is almost empty compared to days when the Outdoor Retailer trade show is underway across the street.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The announcement came after a tense conference call Thursday between Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and outdoor company leaders.

“It’s too bad,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “We still think that Utah has an opportunity to choose a different path.”

Judy Fahys / KUER News

There’s a saying that people should think of outdoor fun when they think of Utah the same way they think of wine and California. But that prized brand identity is at risk now, as tension builds for Gov. Gary Herbert’s meeting with outdoor industry officials on Thursday afternoon.

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Manufacturers would get new tax breaks under a bill passed Tuesday by a Utah Senate Committee. The move continues a longstanding policy of being business friendly. 

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Garfield County commissioners are set to look at a resolution Tuesday to reconsider the size and shape of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Courtesy: Utah House of Representatives

The latest turf battle between the state of Utah and the outdoor retailer industry erupted this week, after efforts to undo the state’s newest national monument prompted outdoor companies to announce they’re considering a new home for their twice-yearly trade shows.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The Utah Division of Air Quality runs its pollution monitoring program out of a warehouse in West Valley City. Bo Call oversees it, and he looks on as a technician troubleshoots a busted pollution sampler – one of about a dozen.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Utah Senators passed a controversial resolution Friday that asks President Donald Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument. The nonbinding resolution lacks the force of law, but legislators wanted to make an official statement about Utah’s newest national monument.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

If you’ve seen or heard a Twin Otter buzzing close overhead lately, there’s a good chance Robert Mitchell was in it. He’s commander of this National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s small plane that’s loaded with scientific gear to gather pollution data.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Utah House lawmakers passed a pair of resolutions Tuesday aimed at dismantling two national monuments in Utah.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Last year was the warmest on record globally. And, while Salt Lake City had a hot one too, it wasn’t a record breaker.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal in the United States 44 years ago, and abortion opponents across the nation have marched to protest that ruling every year since. Utah was an exception to that tradition -- until Saturday.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Students from the Madeleine Choir School marched through the snowy, chilly morning Thursday.

They chanted “What do you want? Clean air. When do you want it? Right now” on their way to the Capitol steps. That’s where hundreds gathered to rally anyone who’d listen.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Lawmakers in Utah’s Republican-controlled Legislature are excited to have new allies in Washington on a key issue: getting the federal government to shift power to states.

Judy Fahys / KUER News


Many people agree that the area around the new Bears Ears National Monument is special enough to warrant protection. Native Americans and environmentalists applaud departing President Barack Obama for creating the monument to preserve its landscape, traditions and cultural resources. But many San Juan County residents and Utah political leaders have vowed to reverse it.

 

Judy Fahys / KUER News

What do you do when you see environmental devastation all around you but feel powerless to change it?

That’s how LaUra Schmidt views the challenge of climate change.

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