Energy & Environment

Environment & Public Lands
5:36 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

EPA Official Helps Salt Lake City Launch Energy Initiative

Rama via Wikimedia Commons

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency joined Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker at the downtown Library today to challenge local businesses and institutions to save money and reduce pollution by consuming less energy. 

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Environment & Public Lands
6:00 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Drought Forces Southern Utah Communities to Cope

Monticello usually relies on runoff from the Abajo Mountains for much of its water, but this warm, dry year the runoff has been weak -- and it's the third year in a row. City leaders are hoping to get two new wells online, plus they've instituted a new conservation program.
Credit Crazy Sally / Flickr Creative Commons

Springtime is runoff time in Utah, and peak runoff is expected in the Cottonwood canyons in the next week or two. But mountains in southern parts of the state have already shed what little moisture they had.

In southeastern Utah, the town of Monticello is looking for ways to cope as it heads into its third year of drought.

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Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Willard Bay Spill Money Earmarked for Eco-Projects

Sheida Hajarian and her team from Desert Water Garden want to use native plants to help heal Willard Bay after the 2013 Chevron pipeline diesel spill.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Chevron Pipe Line Co.’s cleanup crews have packed up and moved out of the Willard Bay State Park. They occupied the parking lot for much of last year after a split pipe leaked more than 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the nearby wetlands.

But, as the park’s fans plan a May 24 party to celebrate its reopening, state officials are asking for advice on how to spend a big impact fund. But there’s still more left to do.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:53 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Tooele County Commissioner Wants “Heavy Fine Structure” for Stericycle

Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne

A Tooele County commissioner says he wants to impose regular fees and a penalty fine structure on Stericycle’s proposed medical waste incinerator should the company decide to relocate there.

Commissioner Shawn Milne acknowledges that his community has welcomed businesses in the past that others did not want, but he says commissioners want to ensure that the environment and people are protected.

“We don’t want to just accept any business here carte blanche without any consideration for what long term consequences there might be,” Milne says.

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Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Public Lands Debate Finds New Venue at City Library

People gathered for a law-school-style debate on public lands policy at the Salt Lake City library.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

    

The fight over federal control of public lands shifted from the West’s deserts to an urban library Wednesday in a law-school style debate that took place in downtown Salt Lake City.

Arguing for state control of federal lands were Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart and State Representative Ken Ivory.

Former Bureau of Land Management Director Pat Shea and University of Utah Professor Dan McCool to made the case that the federal government is the better manager for six hundred million acres.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:17 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Remembrance: Missile, Conservation Activist Cecil Garland

Cecil Garland in Callao, with the Deep Creek Mountains in the background. Garland was known for his straight-talking and incisive observations. He fought the placement of MX missiles in the Great Basin and, more recently, to conserve underground water along the Utah-Nevada line.
Credit WGBH Boston

The West lost a legendary figure over the weekend, when Cecil Garland died.

Garland was a Callao rancher known for his passion to conserve the land he loved and for being plainspoken and eloquent at the same time. In Montana, he led the fight for the nation’s first citizen’s wilderness area, the Scapegoat Wilderness.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:58 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Climate Scientist Michael Mann Warns Utah of Dire Consequences Without Action

Dr. Michael Mann
Brian Grimmett

Climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann was in Utah Wednesday calling attention to the recently released U.S. National Climate Assessment, that predicts dire consequences for Utah if action isn’t taken soon.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:50 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Protest Ride Complicates BLM Trail Study

A rally at Blanding's Centennial Park before the ATV ride. County Commissioner Phil Lyman (center, wearing the light-colored shirt) led the drive on a closed BLM road in Recapture Canyon
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Federal investigators are continuing their probe into a protest ride Saturday through Recapture Canyon. And that includes sizing up the impact that the all-terrain vehicles might have had on the canyon's archaeological sites.

Some people regard Recapture Canyon as a mini-Mesa Verde National Park. Both contain prehistoric ruins, religious kivas and ancient burial grounds that make them world famous. But over the weekend more than 60 protestors drove ATVs into those sensitive areas.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:08 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Land Agency Investigates ATV Ride In Utah Canyon

ATV riders ready to drive onto a trail that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management closed to motorized vehicles to protect its archaeological resources. Local law enforcement were on hand to keep the peace, but not to uphold the federal law. Meanwhile, the BLM says it is investigating.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

A protest in Utah’s San Juan County ended without violence on Saturday. But the conflict between a federal government agency and its critics is expected to continue.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman organized the ride into Recapture Canyon, where the U.S. Bureau of Land Management banned motorized vehicles 7 years ago. Lyman urged protesters at a morning rally on Saturday to steer clear of the closed areas because of the risk to the archaeology and to their reputations.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:21 pm
Sat May 10, 2014

ATV Protest on Federal Land Peaceful So Far

Protesters ride all-terrain vehicles into Recapture Canyon.
Judy Fahys/KUER

A local public official in southeastern Utah led a protest on federal land today against the Bureau of Land Management. 

The group rode all-terrain-vehicles into Recapture Canyon located in Utah’s four corners region. The BLM closed off access to the canyon about seven years ago to protect Native American burial sites.  San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman led the group into the canyon.  He says protesters don’t recognize the authority of the federal government.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:27 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Utah, BLM Sign Land Swap Deal

Corona Arch near Moab is in one of the parcels traded to the BLM by the state of Utah
Utah Institutional Trust Lands Administration

  Utah’s governor and the state director of the Bureau of Land Management have formalized a land exchange involving 60-thousand acres in southern and eastern Utah.

The land exchange has been in the works since 2009, when then-Senator Bob Bennett and Congressman Jim Matheson worked to pass a bill authorizing the deal.  But it’s taken years to finalize the details. 

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Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Provocative Clean-Air Advocate Boosts Utah Debate

Brian Moench speaks at a news conference in the State Capitol. The anesthesiologist's style is provocative and -- to some -- polarizing.
Credit Andrea Smardon / KUER News

For years, Utah’s air pollution problem was virtually ignored by policy makers -- even when the air was foul for weeks at a time. But a growing activist movement has made the issue a top priority for a majority of Utahns, thanks in large part to Moench.

He stood on the State Capitol steps last January in front of thousands of people. Winter smog surrounded them.

Moench, the leader and founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, called on the crowd to continue prodding Utah lawmakers to clear the skies.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:09 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

How Much Water is Your Sprinkler Wasting?

Utah is the second largest consumer of water per person in the nation, but Utah State University Extension is offering a program to help people cut down on wasted water by getting a free sprinkler check.

According to USU, about two-thirds of water in private homes is used on lawns and landscapes. 40 percent of that water is wasted, says Molly Waters, the university’s water check program manager.

“Water is wasted in the landscape through things as simple as watering too long, or too frequently, to having major breaks that you don’t know about,” Waters says.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:51 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Utah Air Quality Board to Discuss Strategies for Controlling Wood Burning

Erik Crossman - University of Utah

The Utah Air Quality board will discuss and develop strategies for controlling wood smoke during winter at their monthly meeting Wednesday. 

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Environment & Public Lands
1:33 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Solar Panels Power Worship in Park City

Solar panels on a new addition to Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Park City, UT
Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church / Rocky Mountain Power

  Three houses of worship in the Park City area are among 22 facilities with new solar power installations funded by Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky program.

The Blue Sky program allows customers to pay extra on their power bills to support the development of renewable energy projects.

From that money, Rocky Mountain Power provided 35-thousand dollar grants to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church and Reform synagogue Temple Har Shalom.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:30 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

State of the Air: Greater Salt Lake Gets ‘F’ but Shows Improvement

Creative Commons photo by Tim Brown, Infinite World

The American Lung Association released its annual report this week on the State of the Air across the country. The results for Utah are mixed.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:25 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Utah's Summer Smog Season Gets Underway

Driving less is one way Utahns can help protect the air from smog buildups on summer afternoons. Utahns often overlook the danger ozone pollution poses on their health.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

Utah’s smog season is underway. Some call it Utah’s overlooked pollution problem.

Michelle Hofmann, a pediatrician and founder of the health advocacy group Breathe Utah, is used to hearing people complain about sooty pollution in the winter. But she says it’s harder for patients to grasp the impacts of ground-level ozone pollution, since it’s odorless and colorless.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:49 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Conflict Over Mustangs in Southern Utah

Wild horses on public rangeland in Utah
Jaime Jackson / Wikimedia Commons

  Governor Gary Herbert says the state might be able to do a better job of managing wild horses on Utah’s public rangeland than federal authorities do.  And both wild horse advocates and local officials in southern Utah say the Bureau of Land Management needs to be doing more.

There are differing estimates of the number of mustangs living on public rangeland in southwestern Utah.  Local officials say there might be as many as 2000 in an area that can only sustain only about half that.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:14 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Utah's Spurge Scourge Targeted in Weekend Event

Spurge in the foothills below Grandeur Peak near Parley's Canyon is targeted in a volunteer cleanup this week.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Spring means spurge in Utah. And Salt Lake County is recruiting people to help purge the pretty -- but invasive -- weed.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:00 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

West's GOP Leaders Plot Strategy

Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and Montana State Sen. Jennifer Fielder address the Western Republican Leadership Conference at the Grand America Hotel on Friday. They were helping to develop new strategies to advance GOP policies nationwide.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

The West’s Republican are having a strategy session in Utah, calling on the federal government to cut regulation and surrender lands in their states.

Montana State Sen. Jennifer Fielder came to Utah to swap ideas at the Western Republican Leadership Conference. Fielder says Western states need to take control of federal lands because states do a better job managing wildlife, forests and range.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:00 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Unusually Warm Winter Might Be Climate Trend of the Future, Say Scientists

Winter in the Heber Valley. The winter months of January through March, 2014, were the second-warmest on record, according to long-term climate records.
Credit Don Cook / Flickr Creative Commons

The National Weather Service’s weekend forecast calls for temperatures to drift closer to normal for this time of year. But, earlier in the year, temperatures nationwide were nothing like normal.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:05 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Herbert: Nevada Standoff Shouldn't Frame Public Lands Debate

Southern Nevada public rangeland where the Bundy family has grazed cattle for generations
Jennilyn Merten

  The standoff between a Nevada rancher and the federal government has put public lands issues in the national spotlight.  But Utah’s governor says it’s not the kind of attention that helps to solve problems. 

Federal officers stopped their roundup of Clive Bundy’s cattle earlier this month to prevent a violent confrontation with Bundy’s armed supporters.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:31 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

'Range Wars' Will Continue, Both Sides Say

A standoff between a Bunkerville, Nev., rancher and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management ended without bloodshed. But observers say the conflict will continue in the courts, the West's statehouses and possibly on the range.
Credit Whiteout Press / Flickr Creative Commons

An armed standoff between federal land rangers and supporters of a Nevada rancher ended more than a week ago without violence. But observers on both sides say the land-rights controversy will continue.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:40 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Utah Lawmaker Takes National Stage on Land-Transfer Idea

Utah Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is recognized as a leader in the lands-transfer movement, which has gotten national attention since the standoff earlier this month in Bunkerville, Nev., led by rancher Cliven Bundy.
Credit Michael Jolley / Flickr Creative Commons

      

A Utah lawmaker’s campaign to take back federal lands is getting new, national traction thanks to a Nevada rancher’s standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is head of a political nonprofit called the American Lands Council. Its goal is to get the federal government to relinquish control of most federal lands to the states.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:47 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

State Seeks Lobbyist to Fight Sage Grouse Listing

A greater sage grouse struts in Wyoming.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

Utah is proceeding with its controversial strategy to protect the greater sage grouse, as state officials solicit bids from lobbyists to keep the bird off the endangered species list.

Jeff Hartley, an energy industry lobbyist, says the state needs more time to show sage grouse numbers are growing because of its approach.

“People need to know the states are making this effort and doing good work,” he said. “A listing would be bad for the state of Utah. And so to educate Congress, and thereby prevent a listing, is in the state’s interest.”

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Environment & Public Lands
5:23 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Industrial Plant Risks to Students Mapped in New Report

West, Texas, after the explosion last year. A chemical sometimes used for homemade bombs exploded a year ago, leaving 15 dead, 160 injured and buildings damaged and destroyed. The Center for Effective Government says 4.6 million children attend schools within a mile of facilities that routinely use potentially dangerous hazardous and flammable chemicals.
Credit Center for Effective Government

    

Millions of American students go to schools near businesses that handle large volumes of dangerous or explosive chemicals.

The Center for Effective Government has mapped companies with operations that could potentially put the students and other neighbors at risk.

The center estimates nearly 79,000 Utah students ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade attend 131 schools that are in proximity to these sites. Sean Moulton is the center's director for open-government policy.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:40 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Utah Becomes A Wind-Energy Resource Center

Credit Joel Addams / Flickr Creative Commons

Utah is about to become a hub for wind energy information in the Four Corners states, with financial assistance from the U.S. Energy Department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Sarah Wright is director of Utah Clean Energy, the nonprofit that will head up the information clearinghouse for wind energy, the Four Corners Wind Resource Center.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:42 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Environmental Group Fights 'Solar Penalty'

HEAL Utah says homeowners who install solar panels will be penalized if the Public Service Commission approves a new monthly fee that has been requested by Rocky Mountain Power. Meanwhile, the company says it needs to increase monthly fees, and add this new one, to pay its fixed costs.
Credit Thomas Sallai / Flickr Creative Commons

An environmental group says it’s a bad idea to hike the cost of clean-energy investments that are good for the community. That’s why the group HEAL Utah is rallying against Rocky Mountain Power’s request to charge solar-panel owners a new fee. HEAL’s Matt Pacenza calls the $4.25-a-month charge a “solar penalty.”

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Environment & Public Lands
6:26 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Air-Quality Discussion Focuses on Solutions

Jonathan Samet, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, gave a keynote speech at the air pollution research retreat.
Credit Courtesy Photo / University of Southern California

   

Researchers, regulators and clean-air advocates gathered Monday to talk about Utah’s air pollution woes.

Jonathan Samet, chairman of Preventative Medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, focused his keynote speech on what else decision-makers need to know to build on America’s progress in tackling pollution.

“Research is important,” Samet said after his talk, “and we need it to guide the policymakers, so we can focus in on those sources that may be most critical.”

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Environment & Public Lands
1:16 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Petition Calls on BLM to Stop Nevada Roundup

Jodi Thornley

  A supporter of a Nevada ranching family is hoping her online petition will help to calm down a confrontation over cattle grazing on public land.

The Bureau of Land Management has been rounding up cattle belonging to the Bundy family on rangeland north of Las Vegas.  Agency officials say the cattle are trespassing – the Bundys haven’t paid grazing fees for years.  The family argues they’ve been using the land for generations, but they’ve lost two court decisions challenging federal jurisdiction.

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