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.

Ways To Connect

Utah Clean Energy

The energy industry has been in Utah’s capital city this week to talk about trends, and one word kept popping up everywhere: clean.

Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute told reporters: “We’re leading the world to improve the cleanliness and energy consumption.”

Garrett / Flickr Creative Commons

A state energy official told lawmakers Wednesday that cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants could be costly for Utah.

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut the emissions linked to climate change hasn’t been finalized yet, but Utah’s energy officials and electricity producers worry that the new emission controls could hit Utah hard.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Jim Wright and his wife are raising three young children in Kaysville. They want state leaders to plan for a healthy economy so their kids also can live and work here. They’d like education to be high-quality and affordable. They want rich outdoor opportunities for their grandchildren even as the population doubles. That’s why Wright filled out Envision Utah’s online survey, Your Utah Your Future.

Tony Frates / Flickr Creative Commons

The discussion about the future of Salt Lake City’s parks, trails and open space continues through next week with six open houses.

City leaders say the need to gather citizen input on outdoor amenities is obvious. Some of the city’s parks were designed and built decades ago, long before people thought about taking their bikes into the mountains on dirt trails. It’s one reason residents are being asked for their input on a new priority list, says Nichol Bourdeaux, deputy chief of staff in the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office.

Robert Young / Flickr Creative Commons

Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has been embroiled in controversy over inventory management and low morale. But Governor Gary Herbert said Thursday he’s comfortable with the way things are going now.

Per / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study zeroes in on those odd times when bird flocks bypass their usual winter habitats because of the climate.

Pine siskins are small songbirds that settle sometimes outside their normal winter hangouts.

Source: Tesoro

Tesoro has pressed the pause button on plans to build a petroleum pipeline halfway across northern Utah.

The San Antonio-based petroleum company informed Summit County leaders last week that current market conditions were behind their decision to put a hold on its Uinta Express Pipeline.

Governor Gary Herbert’s top environment advisor is taking on a challenging new role, leading the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

“The mission of the Department of Environmental Quality,” says the governor, “really is, and I’ll quote, ‘to protect human health and quality of life by protecting and enhancing the environment’.”

Don Anderson / Flickr Creative Commons

Western ski towns including Park City are backing a proposal to reform the royalty system for coal mined on federal lands. The reason: Climate change is dragging down their economies, says a coalition called the Mountain Pact.

The group says Park City will lose $120 million dollars in lower output, 1,137 jobs and more than $20 million dollars in paychecks thanks to a shrinking snowpack and less tourism. The Utah ski town has joined ten other mountain communities that want to combat the problem through reforms to federal coal-leasing programs.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Scott Jones steers a snowmobile into the T.W. Daniel Experimental Forest deep in the mountains above Logan. He’s a soils physicist at Utah State University, and he’s studying how forests use and store water.

“Understanding the processes up here will help us anticipate what’s happening in the valleys and streams,” he says.

Jones and a colleague measure water the snowpack’s holding after Utah’s warmest and driest winter on record. Data like this can help water managers plan for the future.

Gary Turnier / KUED

We can't see aquifers, but these underground water reservoirs make life possible in the West. As we continue our series on Utah's Uncertain Water Future, we explore the consequences of mining groundwater in Utah’s Cedar Valley.

Water managers have a chart that shows Utah’s water demands will outstrip supplies by 2040 and say it shows why the state should start expensive water development projects now.

The Legislature’s auditors spent more than a year basically fact-checking that chart, and at a hearing Tuesday they informed lawmakers important decisions about Utah’s water are being made with unreliable data.

Judy Fahys/KUER

In a parched corner of the nation's second driest state, the Virgin River delivers life-giving water to wildlife, farms and increasing numbers of people.

Ron Thompson sees a future when four times as many people could be living here in St. George, and they’ll need more water than the Virgin can provide. That’s why he wants the Lake Powell Pipeline.

KUED

Governor Gary Herbert says he’s still not sure people have a role in causing climate change.

A reporter asked Utah’s Republican governor on Thursday whether Utah’s lean snowpack and possible water shortages are the result of climate change.

Tax Day Storm Stands Out

Apr 15, 2015
USU Webcam

The storm that bounded into Utah Tuesday stands out as an epic weather event for a number of reasons.

Wind gusts topped 60 miles an hour at dozens of Utah locations. Blowing dust pushed air-pollution measurements into the hazardous range. And temperatures plummeted 29 degrees between afternoon and evening.

Lynn Kitchen / NCRS

Utah’s warm, dry winter means a measly snowmelt, and water-watchers are already writing off this water year as one of the state’s driest ever even though it’s just halfway over.

Most years, the dogs splashing in Parley’s Creek would find the water here cold and swift with spring snowmelt. But the stream’s running at about one-third of normal for this time of year, and that’s as good as it’s going to get. Forecasters say there’s no more runoff to look forward to.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Leaders of an ATV ride into a closed canyon last year asked a court to dismiss the charges against them. But a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the trial will go forward.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and three others behind last May’s Recapture Canyon protest ride declined to comment after Wednesday’s court hearing.

James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

The West used to solve its water troubles with dams. But now Dan Beard, a man who used to lead the nation’s dam-building agency, wants to shutter it.

Beard once oversaw the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s vast water network in the West, and he helped Congress decide on one billion dollars worth of finishing touches for the Central Utah Project.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Conservation groups and Native American tribes worked with state and local agencies to preserve an extraordinary patch of open space along the Jordan River.

A ceremony on Friday highlights their efforts.

Stephen Butler / Flickr Creative Commons

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is scanning hundreds of recently passed bills in search of any that might deserve a veto. One that’s caught his eye would prohibit a wintertime wood-burning ban.

House Bill 396 concerns the governor because it potentially restricts the policy-setting Air Quality Board from implementing the best pollution solutions it finds.

Courtesy: / Utah Department of Transportation

Utah lawmakers took a big step on air quality last week by passing a bill that creates incentives for refineries to make cleaner gasoline in Utah.

Utahns for Responsible Burning / Facebook Screen Capture

Clean-air activists want Governor Gary Herbert to veto a bill that bars regulators from banning wood burning all winter in Utah’s polluted areas. KUER’s Judy Fahys has the story.

The idea of a wood-burning ban was aimed at averting high-pollution episodes in northern Utah basins. But the Division of Air Quality’s proposal caused a backlash and prompted lawmakers to pass a bill that outlaws a ban.

Utah Division of Natural Resources and FrogWatch

The season to spot frogs and toads has arrived, and Hogle Zoo is part of a nationwide, citizen-science effort to monitor them in Utah.

The zoo’s Suzanne Zgraggen, coordinator for FrogWatch USA in Utah, teaches volunteers how to identify frogs and toads.

Lawmakers Hike Gas Tax

Mar 13, 2015
futureatlas.com / Flickr Creative Commons

Motorists will see Utah’s gas tax increase, thanks to an 11th-hour compromise between the Utah House and Senate.

Lawmakers have borrowed from education and universities for years to cover road and bridge repairs. They agreed to end that practice by fixing the 24.5-cent gas tax.

University of Utah

Lawmakers are considering moving Utah closer to being a hands-free state when it comes to drivers using cell phones.

It’s already against the law to text while driving in Utah. A bill in the Senate would require motorists in motion to use Bluetooth or other voice-activated features. Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, calls it “hands-free lite.”

Air Bills Advance

Mar 11, 2015
Wikipedia IC Bus CE-Series

Senators advanced important air-quality bills Tuesday. One provides clean school buses. The other permits Utah-tailored regulations.

The word “different” changed everything for a bill that gives more flexibility to state air regulators. Sen Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, explained that current law blocked regulators from stepping up pollution monitoring at a medical waste incinerator in his district.

Courtesy: Brenda Norrell / Earthcycles

 The West lost an important anti-nuclear activist last week, when Margene Bullcreek was laid to rest on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation.

401(k)2012 / Flickr Creative Commons

Competing House and Senate Medicaid expansion plans are now on the table, and that means state lawmakers have just four days to settle their differences on this major issue before the session ends.

Judy Fahys/KUER

The controversy over wood-burning and air pollution flared up again Tuesday before a legislative committee.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, is sponsoring a bill to ease wood burning restrictions. It amounts to a rebuke of Gov. Gary Herbert’s proposal to ban wood-burning all winter in northern Utah’s pollution hotspots.

snowbirdphoto / Flickr Creative Commons

  Utah’s second annual Outdoor Recreation Summit gets underway in Salt Lake City Tuesday. The daylong meeting is aimed at bringing together communities that have been at odds in the past.

Pages