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

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.”

Judy Fahys/KUER

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s back in federal court this week. He’s being sentenced for organizing a protest ride into Recapture Canyon last year in a case that’s often compared with the prosecution of another person who challenged authority: climate-change activist Tim DeChristopher. 

Ricky Romero / Flickr Creative Commons

The Legislature’s auditors checked operations at some of Utah’s water improvement districts, and they say most of those districts need to tidy up routine operations.

The Legislative Auditor General’s office focused on 16 districts that provide culinary water but no other services. They found 10 needing fine tuning with tasks like bookkeeping, planning and procurement.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Weather watchers at Salt Lake City’s National Weather Service office are telling Utahns what they might have already guessed: It’s been an exceptionally warm fall.

magerly / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of retired community activists has unveiled their latest blueprint for making Utah a better place to live.

The nonpartisan Utah Citizens Counsel has assumed the role of a council of sages with deep community ties.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Utah’s land-transfer advocates agree it's time to get a lawsuit ready for the U.S. Supreme Court after lawyers told legislators Wednesday that solid legal arguments support the quest to take over federal lands in Utah. They say it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to control so much land in the state. “It is not an easy path,” said the leader of the legal team, New Orleans attorney George Wentz. 

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, sees his Regulatory Agency De-Militarization Act as a way to ease the mutual distrust that’s grown between Americans and their federal regulators. He says agencies like the Education Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency don’t need their own highly armed units.

Dan Brown / Flickr Creative Commons

Members of Utah’s State Board of Education will be hearing  from practicing scientists on Friday who say that proposed science standards ignore some critical concepts about climate change.

Courtesy: / Tesoro Corp.

The Utah Supreme Court listened to attorneys on Wednesday arguing about pollution from a refinery, but a quip by one of the high-court justices is getting most of the attention.

Rick Bajornas / UN Photo

Utahns want their voices to be heard during the Paris climate talks. They include Mormons whose church has been silent about a problem they see as a moral issue.

Duc / Flickr Creative Commons

World leaders kicked off meetings in Paris Monday in the search for solutions to runaway climate change.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker will be participating in discussions among local leaders concerned about climate pollution. He’s been working on it with the White House for more than two years. Becker was part of a task force last year that developed a kind of climate-change toolkit for local communities.

EnergySolutions

Salt Lake City-based EnergysSolutions announced big changes last week that could affect its Utah operations.

Brian Grimmett/KUER

The Utah Transit Authority’s governing board has passed new ethics rules and three of its members have resigned after an undisclosed trip to Switzerland two months ago. But the legislative leader who organized the controversial trip is unapologetic.

Natural Resources Conservation Service/USDA

  Imagine a time when Utah’s flooded – not with water but Californians and other people trying to flee the effects of climate change.

It’s one of the uncertainties about Utah’s water, thanks to climate change and an issue being discussed at the Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium in West Valley City.

Judy Fahys/KUER

Main Canyon is an oasis in the high-mountain desert of the Tavaputs Plateau even during midsummer during a drought.

Burt and Christine DeLambert have raised cattle here for nearly four decades. But they’d never seen anything like this before: a dozen trout belly up dead in their spring-fed pond.

Utah Clean Energy

Utility regulators at the Utah Public Service Commission have been considering the question for months: How should PacifiCorp factor the costs and benefits of rooftop solar power into their rates?

Judy Fahys/KUER

 

Climate change activists urged the Natural History Museum of Utah on Tuesday to cut itself free of fossil fuel money.

Courtesty: Intermountain Medical Center

New evidence is emerging from the Wasatch Front about the effects of air pollution on health, thanks to researchers at Intermountain Medical Center who studied heart attacks over more than two decades. What they found in the four Wasatch Front counties is that, when concentrations of microscopic soot pollution reach 25 parts per million concentration, the likelihood of suffering what’s called a STEMI heart attack goes up too.

Judy Fahys/KUER

The popular Land and Conservation Water Fund has pumped more than $17 billion into thousands of projects nationwide in a half century. Around $171 million has gone into Utah projects like building neighborhood playgrounds, developing the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and restoring wildlife habitat.

James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

Most years Salt Lake City’s tomato plants are killed in a hard freeze by Halloween. But this October was the warmest on record at 60.5 degrees average. Flip-flops were comfortable for trick or treating and tomatoes even survived the holiday.

Those mild temperatures are a sign that the new water season is getting off to a slow start in Utah.

Pages