Energy & Environment

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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:18 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

U of U Atmospheric Scientist Counting Down OCO-2 Launch Wednesday

Artist rendering of Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2
Credit File: NASA

University of Utah atmospheric scientist John Lin is eagerly awaiting a second launch attempt of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, early tomorrow morning. Lin is a member of the NASA team studying carbon dioxide around the world. He plans to see the liftoff in person at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This morning’s planned launch of the satellite was scrubbed due to a problem with the Delta-2 rocket.

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:10 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Agency Extends Deadine for Water Pipeline

Federal regulators have extended the state's water-resources office two more years to submit its application for the 139-mile Lake Powell Pipeline. Supporters say getting the water is essential to address growth in southwestern Utah. But opponents say conservation and using the water already available will cover the region's needs.
Credit Chris James / Flickr Creative Commons

    

Communities in the Southwestern part of the state want to develop Utah’s unused share of Colorado River water.  A federal agency is now putting pressure on the state’s water office to hand in its application for that development.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is giving Utah two more years to put together a workable plan for the 139-mile Lake Powell Pipeline. The state’s already had six years to complete its application, and the agency hinted last month it might not extend the deadline again.

Read more
Energy & Environment
1:53 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Salt Lake City Connects New Trio of Solar Power Arrays

Solar farm run by Salt Lake City at former landfill site at 1965 West 500 South.
Credit Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City officials flipped the “on” switch Wednesday celebrating the completion of three large solar projects to power city buildings.  1.7 million kilowatts of electricity annually will come from the solar farm connected to the Public Safety Building, and the city’s operation center at Plaza 349. Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker says Utah’s energy codes are 30 percent less efficient than federal standards and he says leaders at the state level need raise those standards.  

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Utah High Court Clears Way for Tar Sands Mine

The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday nixed the latest challenge to the PR Springs mine in eastern Utah.
Credit Courtesy: / U.S. Oil Sands

  

The nation’s first tar sands mine has been planned for the wild Book Cliffs in eastern Utah. But was stuck in legal limbo until a ruling Tuesday from the Utah Supreme Court.

The justices opted against allowing an environmental group to challenge a state water pollution permit for the project.

“We’ve made plans this year to commence with construction out at the site,” said Barclay Cuthbert, vice president for operations at U.S. Oil Sands Inc.

Read more
Energy & Environment
5:18 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Global Warming Prompts Local Lobbyists

Global warming is already having an impact on snowpack in Utah, says Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. The U.S. Conference of Mayors backed his resolution this weekend on finding local solutions to climate change.
Credit Don Sharaf / American Avalanche Institute

    

Decision makers are hearing a lot about global warming this week.

The nation’s mayors backed a climate change resolution on Sunday. And, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on the government’s power to regulate greenhouse gases, as citizen activists prepared to press Congress to deal with climate change.

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:31 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Bipartisan Bill Simplifies Land Swaps

Streamlining -- and speeding up -- the government land-exchange process will help get more land into conservation and more funds into schools. That's what the Bishop-DeFazio bill intends to do.
Credit Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration

    

New, bipartisan legislation in Congress would advance public education and conserve important landscapes by making it easier to transfer lands between government agencies.

Read more
Energy & Environment
2:48 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

First Wind Announces Another PPA with Rocky Mtn Power in a Month

Credit File: First Wind

Renewable energy company First Wind has finalized four more 20-year power purchase agreements, or PPA’s, with Rock Mountain Power. The latest PPA announced Thursday is for power generated from the company’s planned 320 megawatt “Four Brothers” solar development in Beaver and Iron Counties. Cody Stewart is Governor Gary Herbert’s Energy Advisor. He says the agreement has been in the works for a long time.

Read more
Energy & Environment
5:03 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Lawmakers Spar With Feds Over Policing Public Lands

The standoff in April between federal law enforcement agents and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters has rekindled a discussion about policing in and around Utah's federal lands.

    

There’s been debate all over the West for years about who’s best to police federal lands. On Wednesday, leaders from local, state and federal government agreed the best way to resolve the disputes is to keep talking.

Read more
Energy & Environment
4:00 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Fire Season Pauses For Now Thanks to El Nino

Firefighters were tackling this early season blaze in Toquerville two years ago. This year cold, wet spells have delayed the start of the fire busy season.
Credit U.S Bureau of Land Management

    

Utah’s cold, wet spell is expected to continue through Wednesday, and that could cause a welcomed pause in the fire danger.

The long-term forecast projects a 70 to 80 percent likelihood of El Nino weather conditions for the rest of the year. And that could ease the drought in Utah.

Read more
Energy & Environment
3:36 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Park City Native Plant Sale Aims to Reduce Water Consumption

Wasatch penstemon in bloom on May 31, 2014 in Salt Lake County
Utah Native Plant Society

The annual native plant sale takes place Saturday morning at Recycle Utah in Park City. Organizers say replacing that Kentucky bluegrass with Wasatch penstemon will help conserve water - an increasingly valuable resource in Utah.

Utah is the second largest consumer of water per person in the nation, and Utahns use about two-thirds of that water on lawns and landscapes.  Executive Director of Park City Conservation Association Insa Riepen says that’s an irresponsible and unnecessary use of a valuable resource.

Read more
Energy & Environment
4:40 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

San Juan County Tries to Assume Control of Recapture Canyon; BLM Still Investigating ATV Protest

An ATV protest last month has prompted a new, non-binding resolution from the San Juan County Commission. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it's still investigating crimes associated with the ride on a trail through Recapture Canyon that is closed to motorized vehicles.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Dozens of all-terrain-vehicle riders drove into San Juan County’s Recapture Canyon a month ago. Federal authorities say that ride into off-limits territory was illegal, but they haven’t filed any charges yet.

Now, the San Juan County Commission is asserting authority over the scenic trail in a non-binding resolution. Recapture is filled with ancient burial sites and antiquities, and county leaders say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is taking too long to decide how to safeguard them.

Read more
Energy & Environment
5:40 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Colorado River Roars While Southern Utah Withers

Southern Utah could use more storms like this one at Hite on Lake Powell. Runoff was poor to nonexistent, and that's left ranches and farms that rely on reservoirs to look forward to a dry summer.
Credit Wolfgang Staudt / Flickr Creative Commons

 

The runoff will start tapering to an end soon in northern Utah after near normal flows. But southern parts of the state are still starved for moisture.

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, says many of the reservoirs in northern Utah are doing alright even though it’s been a pretty dry spring. Meanwhile, big storms have been drenching Colorado and making the Green and Colorado Rivers roar.

Read more
Energy & Environment
8:30 am
Mon June 9, 2014

High Pollution Triggers New Regulations for Utah Drillling

An aerial view of oil and gas wells in the Uinta Basin. High winter ozone threatens to bring these areas under Environmental Protection Agency oversight. The state of Utah is proposing regulations that are out for public comment.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

    

The energy boom in eastern Utah has brought with it a big pollution problem.

The Utah Division of Air Quality has been studying it, and its now implementing new regulations to cut emissions.

The agency didn’t even know there was a pollution problem in the Uinta Basin until a few years ago. After millions of dollars of studies, the agency is now putting new rules in place to rein in emissions produced by oil and gas development.

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:19 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Energy Summit Considers All-of-the-Above Options

The Gadsby power plant in Salt Lake City is an example of the nation's transition from coal to natural gas. Environmental Policy Expert Ted Nordhaus said the shift is happening primarily because natural gas is cheap -- not because of Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

    

Utah's energy community met Wednesday at Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd annual Energy Development Summit to talk about the state's all-of-the-above approach to powering everyday life.

The Republican governor reminded his audience that energy is one of his administration’s top four priorities. He said energy pumps around $5 billion into Utah’s economy each year.

But Herbert said good jobs and a high standard of living have to be balanced with conserving the environment.

Read more
Energy & Environment
5:50 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

BLM Releases Report on Little Valley Wash Oil Spill

Evidence of an oil spill in Little Valley Wash near Escalante, Utah.
Credit Courtesy of the BLM, Utah office.

This week, the Bureau of Land Management released a final report on an oil spill that occurred near Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. 

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Utah Prepares for New Climate Plan

Rocky Mountain Power's Carbon Plant near Helper is scheduled to retire next year. New climate pollution regulations from the Obama administration require states to find ways to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming, and power plants are responsible for a more than one-third of that pollution nationwide.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency released an ambitious plan Monday to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Several Utahns are already working on next steps.

David Folland, a leader of the grass roots Citizens Climate Lobby in Utah, is pleased to see progress finally being made on the issue.

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Utah Braces for New Power Plant Regulations

Rocky Mountain Power Spokesman Paul Murphy stands in front of the Gadsby plant in Salt Lake City. The plant used to be powered by coal, but in the 90's the company converted it to natural gas.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

 The Obama administration promised last year to crack down on the pollution blamed for climate change, and now the Environmental Protection Agency is getting ready to take a big step in carrying out that pledge.

On Monday, EPA is expected to roll out new regulations on existing power plants. Those plants are the nation’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming.

And a new report by a think tank called Ceres says Utah has a relatively high output of CO2.

Read more
Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Utah Strategy on Sage Grouse Advances

Leaders in Utah and other Western states want to delay the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision on whether the Greater Sage Grouse deserves federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Conservation advocates say the iconic bird needs those federal protections.
Credit Gail L. Patricelli

Utah leaders are pressing forward with their aggressive campaign to keep the Greater Sage Grouse off the endangered species list.

Republican Utah Congressman Rob Bishop is co-sponsoring a new bill to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the sage grouse to the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species.

Read more
Environment & Public Lands
6:00 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Green River Leak Prompts Call for Prevention

Cleanup crews with absorbent boom at Salt Wash, just east of Labyrinth Canyon. Vacuum trucks removed some of the petroleum-tainted water.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Land Management

    

A cleanup is still underway nearly a week after authorities learned that an oil well was spewing contaminated water near the Green River. Over the weekend, the petroleum reached the river, and now some observers want to focus on preventing future accidents.

Read more
Environment & Public Lands
4:42 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Vandals Deface Pre-Historic Rock Art

Vandals defaced rock art over the weekend in nine mile canyon near the Pregnant Buffalo site.
Credit Courtesy of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance

Over the weekend, vandals defaced  an area of Nine Mile Canyon that contains rock art dating back more than thousand years. 

Deep inside Nine Mile Canyon near Price is an area of rock art dating back to 900 A.D., including an image of a pregnant buffalo. But on Sunday, several people observed that someone had carved the initials JMN along with the date into the rock near historic images. Jerry Spangler is the executive director of the Colorado  Plateau Archaeological Alliance.  He says the graffiti has compromised an important site.

Read more
Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Pricey Lands Study Overlooks Economic Value of Conserved Lands

Allison Jones fears that lawmakers are pumping lot of money into a report that gives skimpy treatment to the economic values of the environment, like the important role the Cottonwood Canyons play in providing drinking water to Utah's most populated valley.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

State lands officials gave a status report to lawmakers last week on the potential costs of taking over federal lands within Utah. What the report didn’t talk about – environmental costs -- is raising concerns for conservation advocates.

Read more
Environment & Public Lands
2:18 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Utah Youth Conservation Corps Gets Boost from Obama Administration Initiative

Canyon Country Youth Corps in Southeastern Utah.
Credit File: Four Corners School of Outdoor Education

Utah youth conservation groups are expected to get a significant portion of the $6.7 million dollars in funding announced yesterday by U-S Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The total amount comes from various public agencies with matching funds from private groups as part of President Obama’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative.

Read more

Pages