Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment
1:33 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Eastern Utah Oil Shale Permit Challenged

Oil shale deposits are found over large areas of Utah, Wyoming and Colorado
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

  A battle is shaping up over a permit to produce oil from oil shale on state land in eastern Utah.  The permit is based on technology that’s still being developed.

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Energy & Environment
4:51 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Lands-Transfer Report, Decisions Delayed

A view from Josie Morris Cabin Road in the Uintas. Lawmakers continue to debate the fate of public lands that are currently in federal hands. Lawmakers have demanded that the federal agencies turn over control of that land to the state. About 2/3 of the lands in Utah are controlled by the federal government.
Credit Courtesy: / Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office

Utah lawmakers will have to wait a little longer for an analysis of a federal lands transfer.

The state public lands policy coordinating office told them Wednesday a report on transferring federal lands to state hands still needs finishing touches.

Assistant Attorney General Tony Rampton said the analysis is clear-eyed, scrupulously objective and exhaustive at nearly 800 pages.

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Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Proposal Melds State Environment Agencies

The Radiation Control Division would be folded into the Solid and Hazardous Waste Division, under a proposal being discussed at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. The Utah Legislature is expected to have a bill in the upcoming session.
Credit EnergySolutions

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is planning to consolidate two state agencies to improve efficiency.

Utah’s Radiation Control Division oversees everything from dental X-ray machines to a massive radioactive waste site, and the proposal has scientists and engineers joining the state’s solid and hazardous waste program. DEQ Director Amanda Smith says the plan retains staff expertise and institutional knowledge.

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Energy & Environment
4:30 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Climate Change Task Force Presents Final Recommendations to White House

AFP-REUTERS-GETTYIMAGES&AP via Flickr

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker was in Washington D.C. today presenting the final recommendations of the White House Climate Change Task Force. 

Last November, Mayor Becker and 25 other State, Local and Tribal leaders from across the country were picked to join the task force.  Over the past year, Becker says the group compared notes on how the warming climate is impacting their respective communities.

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Energy & Environment
6:06 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Utah Uses More Water As National Use Dips

Water from Utah's mountain serves homes, businesses, agriculture, mining and other uses.
Credit Arby Reed / Flickr Creative Commons

A new snapshot of the nation’s water use shows a downward trend.

But Utah is using more water, according to the

U.S. Geological Survey’s five-year study,  based on 2010 data,  shows the nation’s homes, farms, industry and power plants are using significantly less water than they have in more than four decades.

Utah bucked that trend, using 7 percent more water than in 2005.

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Energy & Environment
4:44 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Salt Lake City School Works to Revitalize Jordan River

Students at Pacific Heritage Academy plant foliage near the school's storm drain.
Michael Shea

Students at Pacific Heritage Academy spent the morning planting foliage next to their building’s storm drain. The work is part of the Lower Jordan River Restoration Project.

As part of a greater study of Utah’s water system, students at Pacific Heritage Academy planted nine different types of trees and shrubs in front of their school. The “habitat patch” as it’s called will help absorb storm runoff from the school’s parking lot and provide nesting grounds for birds. Hilary Ward is a Teacher at the academy. She says the work is much more than just storm water management.

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Energy & Environment
6:36 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

USFWS Lists Gunnison Sage Grouse as Threatened

Gunnison Sage Grouse near Monticello, Utah
Credit File: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Brent Stettler

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and that has Utah wildlife managers, environmentalists and politicians upset.

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Energy & Environment
3:56 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

UDAF Launches Environmental Stewardship Certification Program

Box Elder, Utah
Flickr: Lyza

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is launching a new program that rewards farmers and ranchers who are working to protect the environment.

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Energy & Environment
4:29 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Rocky Mountain Power to Take Over Eagle Mountain’s Electric System

Eagle Mountain City voters have decided they want Rocky Mountain Power to provide their electric service. Eagle Mountain has been managing their own utilities since the city was founded in 1996 with 250 residents. But Mayor Chris Pengra says the city has since grown to more than 25,000 people, and the population is expected to quadruple by 2050. Pengra says if the city continued to run the utilities, it would have to issue bonds to accommodate the growth, and that would drive up rates.

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Energy & Environment
11:15 am
Thu November 6, 2014

U Study: Enzymes Make Low-Temperature Fuel Cells Possible

University of Utah Materials Sciences and Chemistry Professor Shelly Minteer
University of Utah

  Imagine a cellphone or a laptop that runs on jet fuel.  New research at the University of Utah is showing how that could happen.

Chemistry professor Shelley Minteer and her team have demonstrated how enzymes extracted from bacteria can be used to make fuel cells that operate at room temperature.  The enzymes create a chemical reaction that generates electricity from a kind of military jet fuel called JP-8.  Minteer says you don’t need much.

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Energy & Environment
5:30 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Climate Change Strategies Already At Work In Salt Lake City

Utah National Guard members work to repair a flood-damaged highway. Climate change is expected to mean more erratic weather that can lead floods as well as droughts and heat waves.
Credit Maj. D.J. Gibb / Utah Army National Guard

    

The UN climate change panel issued its latest status report this weekend. The group says the world must act swiftly to avert the risks in a rapidly warming planet. IN Utah, local efforts are already underway.

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Energy & Environment
3:00 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Is High-Speed Mobile Data Necessary in National Parks?

Lower Falls, Yellowstone National park
Dan Bammes

  A national environmental group is raising concerns about proposed plans to upgrade mobile phone service in Yellowstone National Park. 

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility argues there’s just no need for high-speed mobile service at Yellowstone.  Executive Director Jeff Ruch says the Park Service shouldn’t have to pay for the kind of infrastructure needed for streaming movies.

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Energy & Environment
3:46 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Governor Asks for Cleaner Gasoline

The Holly-Frontier refinery in Woods Cross, Utah
Dan Bammes

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert is asking Utah’s oil refineries to produce cleaner gasoline.  But it may be years before they’re actually ready to do that. 

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Energy & Environment
5:10 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Odds Are Dry Spell Might End This Winter

The National Weather Service is forecasting that most of Utah has even chances of having a normal year for precipitation.
Credit Courtesy: / National Weather Service

October’s been warmer and drier than usual so far in Utah. The warm trend is expected to continue into winter, but forecasters can’t say how much rain and snow will fall in the coming months.

The National Weather Service’s long-term outlook says normal precipitation is just as likely this winter as especially wet -- or dry --weather.  But the state’s had three extra dry years in a row, and that might be the single most important factor ahead.

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Energy & Environment
5:10 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Coalition Vote Could Reshape Grand County Council

The Grand County Council voted Tuesday to join a coalition that wants to build a road, a pipeline and a rail line for eastern Utah energy. The upcoming election could prove to be a referendum on that decision.

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Energy & Environment
1:48 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

DC Court Hears Appeal of EPA Decision on Uintah Ozone

Utah Division of Air Quality pollution monitoring station in Vernal
Dan Bammes

  A complex court case involving winter ozone pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin came before an appeals court in Washington DC Tuesday morning.  The central question is how much federal regulators need to know before they can act to control pollution.

Back in 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency decided the winter ozone problem in the Uintah Basin was “unclassifiable,” and it decided not to designate it as a non-attainment area for federal ozone standards.  Environmental groups sued, arguing the EPA had all the information it needed to act.

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Energy & Environment
2:47 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Air Force Plans Big Expansion of Utah Training Range

The proposed expansion of the U.S. Air Force training range in western Utah would include a portion of Snake Valley in Utah's West Desert.
Dan Bammes

  An environmental activist says a plan to expand the US Air Force test and training range in western Utah is nothing more than a land grab.

The proposed amendment to the Defense Authorization Act would add more than a thousand square miles to the Utah Test and Training Range.  It’s sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch.

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Energy & Environment
2:14 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Contractor Works to Avoid Sage Grouse Listing

Greater sage grouse males strutting on a nesting site in Morgan County, Utah

  The Utah Legislature appropriated two million dollars to try to avoid an endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse.  The consulting firm hired to do that presented its report to the legislature today on its work so far.

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Energy & Environment
5:47 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Utah Lake 'Pond Scum" Is Toxic, State Finds

A view of the microsystin, a toxic bacteria that has made parts of Utah Lake unhealthy, especially for dogs and other animals.
Credit Courtesy: / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Environmental officials have confirmed that levels of toxic algae are elevated at Utah Lake. But they say ordinary activities are fine as long as people steer clear of the bright blue-ish green blooms.

Water tests came back on Thursday showing some of the pond scum on Utah Lake has reached worrisome levels. Environmental officials tested the blue green algae near the Lindon Marina on Monday, after they heard that a dog that had been playing in it died Sunday.

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Energy & Environment
2:04 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Voters in 8 States Oppose Taking Control of Federal Land

A poll of voters in eight Western states shows a majority of voters opposed to their states taking control of federal public lands.
Public Opinion Strategies

  Utah has pioneered the effort by Western states to take control of federal land within its borders.  But a recent poll finds that most voters in those states think it’s a bad idea. 

The poll of voters in eight Western states shows a majority -- 52% -- oppose attempts by their states to take control of public lands managed by the federal government.

The only state where a majority of voters favor the idea is Utah. A law passed by legislators in 2012 threatens legal action if the federal government doesn’t turn over title to those lands.

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Energy & Environment
1:24 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

BLM Wants Input on Nine Mile Canyon

Native American rock art in Nine Mile Canyon
Bill Bryant (used by permission)

  Nine Mile Canyon near Price is famous around the world for its rock art, which dates back a thousand years or more.  Federal land managers want some guidance on how to manage the area so the public can enjoy it.

The Bureau of Land Management is starting work on an environmental assessment for Nine Mile Canyon.  There are as many as 100-thousand Native American rock art images on the canyon walls, but it’s also close to some of Utah’s most productive oil and gas fields.

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Energy & Environment
5:07 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Utah Foundation Water Report Recommends More Users Should Pay For What They Use

Flickr: Ricardo Bernardo

The Utah Foundation has released a new report on the state’s water outlook in the face of what is expected to be huge population growth over the next 35 years. 

The report is the third in a series of studies looking at the impacts population growth will have on Utah. It looked at the challenges Utah’s water supply could be facing and came with several recommendations, including moving away from funding water agencies with property taxes, and toward funding them with increased water rates.

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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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