Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment
5:49 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Lawmakers Hear from Critics of Federal Land Oversight

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's handling of the West wild horse herds was one of the complaints aired Wednesday at a legislative hearing.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Land Management

State lawmakers hosted a freewheeling discussion Wednesday on the impact of federal land ownership and policies on Utahns. But their hearing focused almost exclusively on criticizing the federal government.

For more than two years state lawmakers have had an eye on transferring the control of federal lands to Utah. On Wednesday, a House-Senate panel heard more than a dozen witnesses describe their frustrations with feds.

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Energy & Environment
2:23 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Herbert: No Surprise National Monument for Utah

The Beef Basin area of San Juan County is part of the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument
Ray Bloxham, SUWA

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he has a promise from the Obama administration – there won’t be a new national monument appearing suddenly on the map of Southern Utah.

Governor Herbert was in Washington DC last week and spoke with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.  He told reporters at his monthly news conference on KUED that Jewell promised there would be no designation of a Greater Canyonlands National Monument without some advance notice.

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Energy & Environment
1:35 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Morgan Council Chair: Study Sage Grouse Issue

Male sage grouse on a lek in Morgan County, Utah

  Tuesday's Morgan County Council meeting has been getting national attention because of a land-use planning question that could impact the sage grouse.  But the council may put off a vote on the issue to allow for further study.

At the last meeting two weeks ago, the Morgan County council split 3 to 3 on the question of whether to change the land use designation on a 27-hundred acre parcel near East Canyon Reservoir.  The area includes a sage grouse lek, where the birds mate and nest in the spring.

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Energy & Environment
5:01 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

August Rains Ease Drought

August rains turned much of drought-stricken Utah green. Pictured here is Lakefork Basin from Porcupine Pass.
Credit Beau Uriona / Courtesy: NCRS

Ranchers throughout Utah feared at the beginning of this summer that the drought would be sticking around. But a remarkably wet August has transformed the landscape.

Parts of Northern Utah received almost 4 times as much water as the 30-year average. And, in southern parts of the state, the skies blessed the parched landscape with up to twice as much rain as usual.

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Energy & Environment
6:25 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

U of U Energy Upgrade in Health Professions Building Recognized by DOE

University of Utah Dumke Health Professions Education Building
Credit File: University of Utah

Thursday the University of Utah became the first organization in the state to be recognized by the Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge.  A recently completed project cut energy consumption by more than 40 percent in the Dumke Health Professions Education Building. It houses the Departments of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Neurobiology and Anatomy with classrooms and labs. Myron Willson is the director of the Sustainability Resource Center at the U.

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Energy & Environment
6:02 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Wilderness Act Turns 50, Prompts Reflection in Utah

Utah has about 1.1 million acres of federally designated wilderness so far. The discussion about what acreage should be added rages on.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Wilderness Act turns 50 on Wednesday, and the anniversary has some Utahns thinking about the value of wild places

Congress created the formal system for protecting the nation’s wild places. It’s designated more than 107 million acres as wilderness. In Utah, 1.1 million acres of federal land has earned wilderness protection so far.

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Energy & Environment
1:05 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Morgan Council Considers Sage Grouse in Land Use Decision

Male sage grouse strut on a lek in Morgan County, Utah
Dan Bammes

UPDATE:  The council vote Tuesday evening was 3 to 3, which means the change for the 27-hundred acre parcel did NOT pass.  The property owners plan to try again to win approval for the change at the next council meeting in two weeks.  They’re hoping all seven members of the council will be present for that meeting and that will break the tie. 

The Morgan County Council will look at a change in its master land use plan on Tuesday that could impact the future of the sage grouse in Utah.

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Energy & Environment
5:55 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Public Service Commission Rejects Proposed Solar Metering Fee

Credit Rocky Mountain Power

The Utah Public Service Commission rejected on Friday a request from Rocky Mountain Power to institute a metering fee of more than four dollars a month on customers who generate their own power trough solar panels.  Commission officials ruled that the private power provider did not present enough evidence to prove the proposed fee was just and reasonable.  Matt Pacenza is a policy director with Heal Utah, one of several groups opposing the fee. He says Rocky Mountain Power officials didn’t present a convincing case for the fee.

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Energy & Environment
2:51 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

University of Utah Thursday Game Traffic Likely to Double

Special parking chart for Thursday, August 28, with Ute Football hosting Idaho State.
Credit U of U Commuter Services

Demand for parking spaces on the University of Utah campus is expected to nearly double on the only Thursday game of the Ute Football season.  

Alma Allred is the executive director of commuter services at the U. His suggestion is simply to not drive to campus.

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Energy & Environment
5:07 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

August Climate Eases Drought; Grows Record Tomato

Dale Thurber's giant tomato -- a Michael's Portuguese Monster -- weighed in this month at 3.754 pounds, breaking the state record. Favorable summer weather helped his giant tomato achieve its size.
Credit Courtesy: / Dale Thurber

Most of Utah continues to struggle with drought. But an especially cool and rainy August has eased the dryness and triggered other consequences, too, including a monster tomato.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Seaman’s put some numbers to the climate trends that Utahns have been living firsthand this August.

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Energy & Environment
4:47 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Eagle Mountain Council Accepts Rocky Mountain Power’s Bid to Buy City’s Utilities

Eagle Mountain City officials voted Tuesday to approve Rocky Mountain Power's bid to purchase its municipal power company. But it will be up to voters to make a final decision in November.

Eagle Mountain is projected to be among the fastest growing areas in the state over the coming decades. That’s one of the reasons City Councilor Tom Westmoreland thinks the city should get out of the power business.

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Energy & Environment
4:20 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Salt Lake City: A "Heat Island" with Health Consequences

Salt Lake City, like other cities, captures heat and holds onto it much longer than surrounding communities in rural Utah, because it is a "Heat Island."
Credit Garrett / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities are getting hotter thanks to climate change. And the heat in cities is rising faster than rural America. It’s a trend playing out in Utah.

Eric Pardyjak is a University of Utah mechanical engineering professor who studies what are called “heat islands,” which generally make summer nights hotter in cities than in rural communities.

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Energy & Environment
2:36 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Grand County Council Delays Coalition Vote

Grand County Courthouse in Moab, Utah

The Grand County Council has decided to take another look at joining a coalition that will pool resources on construction of roads and other projects in eastern Utah. 

The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition was created earlier this year to study rail links, pipelines and road proposals stretching from Daggett County in the north to San Juan County in the south.

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Energy & Environment
1:22 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Grand County Council Considers Joining Coalition

Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah
Dan Bammes

Six counties in eastern Utah have formed a coalition to plan and build infrastructure projects such as roads and rail lines.  The Grand County Council will decide this afternoon whether to join the group.

Grand County is the last to consider joining what’s called the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition.  It was formed earlier this year and already includes Daggett, Uintah, Duchesne, Carbon, Emery and San Juan counties.

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Energy & Environment
2:47 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Compromise Possible in Morgan County Sage Grouse Dispute

The Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)
Phil Douglass/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Landowners won a decision from the Morgan County Planning Commission Thursday night. Conservation groups had asked them to protect a nesting area for the greater sage grouse. But it appears a compromise is already in the works.

The group of about 50 landowners wants to develop a new resort community near East Canyon Reservoir. They were asking the Morgan County Planning Commission to change the designation of their property on the county’s master land use plan from “Natural Resources and Recreation” to “Master Planned Community.”

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Energy & Environment
1:58 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Sage Grouse Central to Morgan County Land Use Controversy

Males strut on a greater sage grouse lek in Morgan County, UT
Dan Bammes

  Conservationists say a change in Morgan County’s master land use plan could have a big impact on the future of the greater sage grouse in Utah.  A potential resort development is the subject of a hearing planned for Thursday evening.

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Energy & Environment
5:30 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Clinton Continues Chlorination after Drinking Water Contamination

The Davis County community of Clinton has been working all week to get rid of the drinking-water contamination that was caused when someone illegally connected the secondary water supply to culinary water pipes. By Monday, all water advisories were lifted and the city continued investigating the problem's cause.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Drinking water advisories have been lifted in the Davis County community of Clinton, but the weeklong ordeal caused by bacterial contamination isn’t quite over yet

The problem started when someone illegally connected the irrigation water system to the separate system of drinking water pipes.  

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Energy & Environment
2:14 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Senators Lobby For -- And Against -- New National Monument

Map showing the area proposed for the Greater Canyonlands National Monument
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

  Five members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are hoping to persuade President Obama not to create a huge new national monument in southern Utah, while other members of Congress are urging him to act.

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Energy & Environment
4:57 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Business Leaders Launch New Initiative on Water

Examining Utah's water -- in the environment, homes and at work -- is the idea behind a new initiative by the Salt Lake Chamber.
Credit Clint Losee / Flickr Creative Commons

Utah’s business community is launching a new initiative this week focusing on water. Business leaders say protecting current water supplies and developing new ones is essential if the state is going to continue to operate smoothly and to grow.

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Energy & Environment
2:00 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Drought Cuts Season Short for Great Salt Lake Boaters

A crane lifts a sailboat out of the Great Salt Lake Marina this week. Drought has dropped the lake level about 5 feet, leaving boat keels stuck in the mud and unable to get in and out of the marina. Scientists don't think the lake levels will be rebounding anytime soon.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Drought is shrinking the Great Salt Lake. So, boat owners enlisted a big crane this week to haul their boats out of the water.

Brad Silver’s bonds with the Great Salt Lake go deep. His family actually built the Great Salt Lake Marina in the 1960s, and his bedroom was a boat here when he was a teen. He can’t recall the last time the lake was this low -- he was just a tot. But lately the bottom of his sailboat’s been digging into the floor of the harbor where so many family adventures began.

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Energy & Environment
2:00 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Agreement Avoids Endangered Species Listing for Two Wildflowers

The White River beardstongue (Penstemon scariousus var. albifluvis) is one of two wildflowers that had been proposed for listing as endangered species.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  Two wildflowers that grow only where there are oil shale or tar sands will stay off the federal endangered species list for now.  Instead, an agreement has been worked out to protect some of the areas where they grow in eastern Utah.

The two species are Graham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue, two small flowers related to snapdragons.  They grow in eastern Utah and western Colorado where oil shale or tar sands are close to the surface.

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Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

National "Sun Tax" Debate Lands in Utah

Utah's Public Service Commission finds itself in the middle of a national discussion about the community costs and benefits of residential rooftop solar power. It's decision is expected by Sept. 2.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Hearings in downtown Salt Lake City this week put Utah at the center of a national controversy over solar power.

Electric companies in 43 states allow homes with solar panels to put unused electricity back on the power grid. Utah is one of those states. But it is deciding on becoming one of the first states to charge solar customers a monthly service fee.

Environmentalists call it a “sun tax.”

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Energy & Environment
4:56 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Panel Accuses Forest Service of Water Grab

Utah's forested mountains are the starting points for 70 percent of the water that serves Utahns. A new U.S. Forest Service plan for including groundwater in decision-making nationwide has been panned by the State Water Development Commission.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

 

The U.S. Forest Service says it wants to do a better job safeguarding the nation’s groundwater. But its initiative to protect that vital resource is coming under attack in Utah and elsewhere. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports.

Utah’s State Water Development Commission has a simple message for the Forest Service and its new groundwater directive.

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Energy & Environment
3:43 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Residential Solar Users Asked to Pay More for Power

Utah Clean Energy

Rocky Mountain Power subsidizes new solar power installations through its Blue Sky program. But it’s also insisting it needs additional money from residential customers who have solar panels on their homes.

The Utah Public Service Commission is preparing for a hearing next week on Rocky Mountain Power’s request for residential solar power users to pay four dollars and 65 cents a month to connect their homes to the grid.

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Energy & Environment
4:45 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

State Sets Water Priorities On Virgin River Tributaries

Washington County Water Conservancy District is concerned that unauthorized users are jumping their place in line and taking water they need for their reservoirs. Sand Hollow Reservoir is one of the district's storage sites.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

    

A drought in southwestern Utah means there’s not enough water to fulfill the needs of all property owners in the area. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports on the priority list that’s leaving some Washington County water users dry this year.

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Energy & Environment
5:52 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Rail Line Would Deliver Uinta Basin Energy to Markets

A proposed rail line would cover rugged territory in central eastern Utah to transport energy products from the Uinta Basin to Price.
Credit a4gpa / Flickr Creative Commons

Plans are moving forward to build a 100-mile rail line from Duchesne, through the wild Uinta Basin, and into Price. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports on the ambitious and expensive proposal to move Utah energy products into the market.

The Uinta Basin rail project is a big idea. And its price tag is big, too – as much as $4 billion. But state transportation officials estimate an even bigger financial cost if Uinta Basin oil can’t get to Wasatch Front refineries and buyers outside the state.

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Energy & Environment
1:00 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Interim Committee Will Look at Stricter State Air Quality Regulations

Pollution trapped in a winter air inversion covers the Salt Lake Valley
Dan Bammes

  Utah’s current law prohibits state regulators from imposing any air quality regulations stricter than federal requirements. A bill that would change that will be up for discussion in a legislative committee this week.

On Wednesday, the legislature’s  Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee will gather for an interim meeting. Lawmakers will look at a proposal that would allow the state of Utah to impose stricter air quality standards than the federal government.

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Energy & Environment
2:03 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Advocates: Oil Shale Will Deplete Water Resources

Oil shale resources in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming
Aberdeen National Laboratory

  An environmental group says developing oil shale in the West would require enormous amounts of water – and it’s pointing to a recent court case to back up its argument.

A court settlement last week between Western Resource Advocates and Chevron resulted in the disclosure that Chevron’s plan for developing oil shale in Colorado would require up to 120-thousand acre-feet of water annually.  That’s more water than Salt Lake City uses in a year.

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Energy & Environment
12:31 pm
Fri July 4, 2014

Salt Lake County Helps HawkWatch International Study Kestrel Falcons

A volunteer climbs up to one of the nest boxes HawkWatch international has set up in Salt Lake County
Brian Grimmett

Salt Lake County is teaming up with HawkWatch International to help study and track the smallest falcon in North America known as the kestrel falcon.

Mike Shaw is a volunteer with the organization. Right now he’s reaching up into one of the 150 nest boxes the organization has put out across the Wasatch front and pulling out the baby kestrel falcons.

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Energy & Environment
2:37 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Wants to Prevent the Spread of the "STD of the Sea"

Zebra Mussels
Utah Division of Wildife Resources

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is launching a new campaign to help stop the spreading of invasive mussels in Utah lakes.

In the new campaign the DWR is asking people to “practice safe boating” by cleaning, draining, and drying their boats to prevent the spread of the “STD of the Sea.” Jordan Nielson is the Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator at the DWR. He says if the mussels spread it could severely damage the state’s infrastructure used to bring water to population centers.

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