Energy & Environment

Dan Bammes

The South Marina at Willard Bay State Park is open and operating, but the North Marina will remain closed through the July 4th holiday weekend.  

North Salt Lake resident Natasha Hincks Henderson

Environmental advocates and concerned residents will be holding a protest Tuesday evening at Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake. They want the incinerator – which emits dioxins and other toxic chemicals - shut down.

Protest organizer Bradley Angel is Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. He says Stericycle’s incinerator is a direct threat to the health of the families in the neighborhood.

NuScale Power

  Several Western states are involved in an initiative to study small-scale nuclear power plants. The first of this new generation of nuclear reactors could be built in Idaho.

Oregon-based NuScale Power has been developing its design for a 47-megawatt power plant that would not need extra water, electricity or even human intervention to stay safe in an emergency.  Now it hopes to build one at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

Utah Division of Air Quality

  In the winter, air pollution can stay trapped in the valleys of the Wasatch Front until the wind picks up and blows it away.  In the summer, ozone pollution can be a problem day after day even when the wind is blowing.  

Unlike particulates, which can build up for weeks in a winter inversion, new ozone is created every day by a reaction between tailpipe emissions and sunlight. Erik Crosman, a researcher in the University of Utah’s Atmosopheric Sciences program, says the wind doesn’t make much difference to pollution levels on a hot summer day.

Western Governors Release 10-Year Energy Vision

Jul 1, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert chairs the Western Governors Association, so this year, the group held its annual meeting in Utah.  The topics included reforming health care and education, but a lot of the focus was on energy and public lands. 

Dan Bammes

  The Secretary of the Interior is promising more cooperation with Western states  before the federal government takes unilateral action on public lands. 

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has been on the job just a couple of months.  She was invited to speak to the Western Governors Association at its meeting in Park City.  Jewell  was asked whether the Obama administration is ready to create a new national monument in the Greater Canyonlands area.  She repeated a commitment made during her confirmation to ask local residents what they think before taking that kind of action.

Bob Nelson

A broad coalition of water conservation groups is calling for a legislative audit of the Utah Division of Water Resources. The partnership includes Living Rivers, the Taxpayer Association of Kane County and Glen Canyon Institute. Zack Frankel is the executive director of Utah Rivers Council which is also part of the coalition.

Tax Incentives Boost Green River Refinery Plan

Jun 27, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

  Work could begin soon on a new oil refinery in Green River, Utah, bringing more than a hundred stable new jobs to that community. 

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development will provide more than 12-million dollars in tax incentives to Rock River Resources, based in Houston. It’s agreed to create 125 new jobs at its proposed refinery to be built next to I-70 in Green River.  The state has already issued an air quality permit for the project, and construction on rail links to the site could begin this summer.

Rocky Mountain Power Defends Environmental Record

Jun 25, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

Environmentalists are applauding President Obama’s proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions by executive action.  But Rocky Mountain Power says one group’s criticism ignores what it’s been doing for years.  

SUWA

Utah’s governor doesn’t much like the idea of creating a Greater Canyonlands National Monument covering a large area of public land in southern Utah.  

Environmental groups are asking President Obama to use the federal Antiquities Act to set aside 1.4 million acres of public land on both sides of the Colorado River as a national monument.  Governor Gary Herbert says there are better ways to protect public land.

DOE Marks a Milestone at Moab Cleanup Site

Jun 18, 2013
Alicia Geesman

  The U.S. Department of Energy says it’s moved six million tons of uranium mill tailings off the old Atlas mill site in Moab.  That’s 38-percent of the total, with about ten million tons still to go.

Workers on the site take three months off every winter, but project director Don Metzler says President Obama has proposed an increase in funding to keep them working longer.

 “It would allow us to go for twelve months a year, year-round," Metzler says, "with maybe a two-week vacation just so we could watch the dollars there a little bit.”

Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/7420600368/">arbyreed</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en">Creative Commons</a> via flickr

Firefighters are still trying to contain three fires started in south eastern Utah last week. The Rock Creek Fire near Price, the Lackey Fan Fire near La Sal and the Dark Canyon Fire west of Monticello all began when a storm rolled through southeast Utah late last week.The Lackey Fan Fire is the biggest of the three having already burned about 900 acres with a crew of over 300 firefighters battling the blaze. The fire is currently burning in the opposite direction of La Sal and crews aren’t planning evacuations at this time. Jason Johnson is the information officer for the Rock Creek Fire.

Sequester Cuts PILT Payments to Rural Counties

Jun 14, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Rural counties in Utah will get less money this year from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT.  The federal government provides the funding to counties with large areas of public land.  Garfield County has more than two million acres of federal land, but this year it will get just over $800,000 dollars from the PILT program.

County Commissioner Leland Pollock says providing services on federal land is a burden on local taxpayers.

Dan Bammes

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument covers 1.9 million acres of Kane and Garfield Counties.  It’s not the easiest place to visit, but there’s an effort underway to improve access along one of its most popular roads.  

Bob Nelson

State officials re-launched the Utah Clean Air Partnership or UCAIR today as a non-profit entity with a a new board of directors.  

Governor Gary Herbert gathered many new members of the UCAIR board in West Valley City on Tuesday to announce changes to the organization. Until now, UCAIR had been a state-run organization dedicated to improving the state’s air quality. Governor Herbert says reorganizing the day-to-day management of UCAIR was always a goal.

Gary Kramer/USFWS

After several decades of recovery efforts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

Science Panel Studies Wild Horse Management

Jun 6, 2013
Dan Bammes

  A panel of scientists working with the National Research Council released its report this week on the management of wild horses in the West.  One of the experts is from Brigham Young University. 

City planners, designers and developers from across the country are in Salt Lake City through Saturday to discuss how to build more walkable, transit-oriented and sustainable neighborhoods. The Congress for the New Urbanism brought its annual convention to Salt Lake City this year. 

The New Urbanism philosophy harkens back to neighborhoods designed before the automobile existed. The pedestrian-centered balance of jobs, housing and transportation is intended to rein in urban sprawl and relieve traffic congestion.

Lawsuit Could Challenge Tar Sands Leasing

May 29, 2013
Bureau of Land Management

Seven environmental groups are telling the Bureau of Land Management they plan to sue the agency over its leasing plan for oil shale and tar sands.  They say the agency didn’t consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the possible impact on endangered species.   

Attorney Steve Bloch with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the 60-day notice is required before the suit can be filed in federal court.

NASA

  The two biggest reservoirs on the Colorado River, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are both under 50-percent of their capacity.  Delegates from the federal government, seven Western states, Native American tribes and environmentalists will have that in mind as they meet this week in San Diego to discuss the future of the river.

Activists are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to halt Utah’s efforts to seize control of federal land in the state. Educators, parents and students gathered at Liberty Park this morning to ask state lawmakers to find realistic solutions to funding education and stop taking aim at public lands.  

Ethan Lake is a senior at West High School in Salt Lake City. He says the state is blessed with a beautiful natural environment.

Dan Bammes

A legislative commission is asking Utah’s governor to take another look at an agreement with Nevada over water rights in the Snake Valley.  Federal law required the states of Utah and Nevada to work out an agreement before the Southern Nevada Water Authority could pump groundwater from the Snake Valley to Las Vegas.  The deal was worked out more than three years ago, but Governor Gary Herbert decided just last month he wouldn’t sign it based on opposition from residents living in the area.  

BASE Jumping Fatality at Notch Peak

May 8, 2013
Fernando Motta

  Notch Peak is a 9600-foot mountain about 35 miles west of Delta, Utah.  From the top, it’s a two-thousand foot drop straight down – and that’s one reason why it’s become a favorite spot for BASE jumping – jumping off the cliff with wing suits and parachutes.  There have been two fatalities there in the past year, one just ten days ago.

Groups Ask UDOT to Stop West Davis Corridor

May 7, 2013
Dan Bammes

  A coalition of community and environmental groups is asking the Utah Department of Transportation to reconsider building a new freeway along the west side of Davis County.  Their so-called "Shared Solution" asks U-DOT to study improving east-west roads and walkable communities as an alternative.

Community activist Lori Kalt wants to avoid a new freeway cutting through her neighborhood on the west side of Farmington.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert demonstrated three simple things Utahns can do to help lower harmful emissions as he kicked off Clean Air Month at a house across the street from the State Capitol today.

Governor Herbert says Utahns aren’t always aware of the simple ways we can help clean up the air but gave these three tips while declaring May Clean Air Month. One could update older fuel storage containers, use paints with low amounts of volatile organic compounds, and replace gas powered yard equipment with cleaner alternatives.

Dan Bammes

  Chevron had a setback this week when its pipeline near Willard Bay State Park failed a pressure test.  Repair work will have to continue before the pipeline can go back into full operation.

More than 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the pipeline on March 18th.  Willard Bay’s North Marina has been closed since then.  Fred Hayes, the director of Utah’s Division of State Parks, says it could take longer than planned to re-open the beach and campgrounds.

Utah Finalizes Sage Grouse Plan

Apr 24, 2013
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

  The state of Utah has released the final version of its plan for protecting the greater sage grouse.  The plan designates 11 Sage Grouse Management Areas stretching from Rich County to Kane County and outlines goals for improving existing habitat and protecting the birds from threats such as energy development, predators and wildfire.

Great Salt Lake Minerals Scales Back Expansion

Apr 23, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Great Salt Lake Minerals is scaling back its expansion plans along the eastern and western shores of the lake – and environmentalists are applauding.  

In 2009, Great Salt Lake Minerals asked the Army Corps of Engineers to approve a 91-thousand acre expansion of its evaporation ponds.  Today it submitted a new application asking for just 52-thousand acres.  Lynn DeFreitas with Friends of the Great Salt Lake says the new plan avoids some critical wildlife habitat.

www.bidder70.org

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher made his first public appearance last night since being released from federal custody on Sunday. He was sentenced in 2011 to two years in federal prison for derailing a 2008 Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction. DeChristopher joined hundreds of his supporters at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City for a screening of the documentary Bidder 70, which details his act of civil disobedience and his conviction. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is now taking public comment on proposed new cleaner fuels and cars standards. Known as Tier 3 of the Clean Air Act Amendments, they’re designed to improve air quality and public health by reducing the sulfur content of gasoline and making cars more efficient. 

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