Energy & Environment

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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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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