Energy & Environment

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. 

Earth Day Demonstration at Governor's Mansion

Apr 22, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert is out of the country right now on a trade mission in Israel.  But that didn’t stop environmentalists from holding an Earth Day rally right in front of the Governor’s Mansion on South Temple.

As traffic whizzed by on one of Salt Lake City’s busiest streets, demonstrators wrote their messages of protest on blue ribbons.  They had to tie them to a volleyball net because they weren’t allowed to put them on the governor’s wrought-iron fence.

Bob Nelson

The first electronic recycling event of the year was a popular spot Friday morning on the campus of the University of Utah with a steady stream of vehicles lining up to be unloaded. The Salt Lake County Health Department’s program has recycled 2 point 3 million pounds of old computers, cellphones, and televisions since it began three years ago. Dan Moore is the Household Hazardous Waste Program Coordinator for the Department.

Bishop Working for Public Lands Solution

Apr 18, 2013

  Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) is hoping that a regional approach to resolving the status of public lands in Utah might work better than the county-by-county approach that's been tried before.  Bishop has been meeting with local government leaders and representatives of environmental groups, hoping to work out a plan that he can get through Congress.  He chairs the House Subcommittee on Public Lands.  The plan, he says, is to designate lands for preservation as wilderness and lands where development and revenue would be the primary goal.

Migrating Birds Crash at Dugway

Apr 15, 2013
Al Vogel, Dugway Proving Ground

Hundreds of migrating birds crash-landed at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground overnight, apparently mistaking a parking lot in a snowstorm for water.  Al Vogel, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army, says these are eared grebes, a species that can’t take off from land.  Vogel says the Army’s own wildlife specialists and the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources are working to rescue the birds that survived.

"They’ll take the birds to a nearby pond on post, let ‘em rest there and then they’ll take off and continue their migration," Vogel tells KUER.

Mary Evelyn Tucker: Religion and Ecology

Apr 12, 2013
Emerging Earth Community

  The University of Utah College of Law is hosting the annual Stegner Symposium this week, focusing on Religion, Faith and the Environment. Increasingly, people of faith are citing their beliefs as a major motivation for protecting the environment and caring for those at the margins of society.

Willard Bay Cleanup Underway

Apr 11, 2013
Dan Bammes

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  A Chevron safety manager briefed reporters before taking them on a tour of the cleanup area at Willard Bay State Park on Wednesday.  The Chevron pipeline next to I-15 split open in mid-March, allowing more than 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into a wetland area next to the park’s North Marina.

Outdoor businesses and conservation groups are calling on the federal government to protect the land in and around Utah’s parks. 29 organizations sent a letter Monday to President Barack Obama calling for lasting protections for state and national parks from overdevelopment. 

Nevada Environmentalists Applaud Utah Decision

Apr 5, 2013
U.S. Bureau of Land Management

  Environmentalists who’ve been trying to stop a water pipeline from the Great Basin to Las Vegas are applauding a decision by Utah’s governor to reject an agreement between Utah and Nevada.

Wikimedia Commons

Governor Gary Herbert has rejected an agreement with Nevada that would allow Las Vegas to pump massive amounts of groundwater from the states' shared border along the Snake Valley. The governor says he came to the decision after talking to residents and government officials in the West Desert.

Governor Gary Herbert says he’ll decide whether or not to sign the controversial water sharing agreement with Nevada in the next couple of weeks. Nevada officials signed the document three years ago. It would allow the state to pump groundwater to Las Vegas by way of Snake Valley, which straddles the Utah/Nevada border. 

The governor, speaking at the monthly KUED today news conference says it’s clear most people in Utah and even some in Nevada believe the pipeline is a mistake.

Brian Grimmett

The Utah Office of Tourism launched a brand new regional ad campaign today to help promote the state’s five national parks.

The $3.1 million dollar campaign will include TV commercials in major western markets like Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco as well outdoor and digital advertisements. Governor Gary Herbert was on hand for the launch. He says tourism has and will continue to help Utah’s economy.

Before It Starts

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced a plan to encourage oil shale and tar sands development in the Mountain West. The Bureau of Land Management released its final plan Friday to develop and test technologies to extract these fossil fuels in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. But the citizen group Utah Tar Sands Resistance says this move will endanger the environment and public health. 

The weekend fatality of a West Jordan man will become an unplanned topic at the State School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration or SITLA Board meeting later this week. 22-year-old Kyle Stocking died following a rope swing accident from Corona Arch which is located on SITLA Land. Kim Christy is the Deputy Director of the Administration which owns 3 point 4 million acres in Utah. He offered condolences to the family and friends of Stocking.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Kane County and the state of Utah have regained ownership of several back-country roads that cross federal land. A federal judge granted the state and county title to 12 of 15 roads being contested in a legal dispute with the Interior department and Bureau of Land Management. 

Utah Attorney General John Swallow says the decision proves the state of Utah and 22 of 29 Utah counties involved in the lawsuit are not just barking in the wind.

Dan Bammes

  Governor Gary Herbert traveled to the Snake Valley on the Utah-Nevada line yesterday to talk to people who might be impacted by a plan to pump groundwater from the Great Basin to Las Vegas.

Last month, when Utah Mom’s for Clean Air petitioned Governor Gary Herbert to take action on Utah’s poor air quality, his office responded by asking the group to come back with possible solutions. Friday, the group delivered that plan, which includes putting a price tag on air pollution. 

Cherise Udell is President and Founder of Utah Mom’s for Clean Air. She called the Airshed User Fee the most innovative idea in the plan. It’s a tax on the six specific pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency including particulate matter.

Utah DEQ Ready For New EPA Chief

Mar 6, 2013
EPA

  The head of Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality says she’s had a good experience working with the person picked to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  Gina McCarthy was head of E-P-A’s air quality division until President Obama tapped her for the top job this week.

Amanda Smith at  DEQ says she’s optimistic McCarthy will be able to work with the state on Utah’s unique problems, such as winter ozone in the Uintah Basin.

Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are asking the federal government for more time before it designates the Gunnison sage grouse an endangered species. 

The Gunnison sage grouse is a smaller cousin of the grouse that lives all over the west.  In Utah, it lives only in San Juan County, mostly on private land near Monticello.  There are only about a hundred of them left.

Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are asking the federal government for more time before it designates the Gunnison sage grouse an endangered species. 

The Gunnison sage grouse is a smaller cousin of the grouse that lives all over the west.  In Utah, it lives only in San Juan County, mostly on private land near Monticello.  There are only about a hundred of them left.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert along with legislators and government leaders are putting their support behind a bill that would help local and state agencies expand their fleets of Compressed Natural Gas vehicles.

The University of Utah is starting a new center to study air pollution and its impacts on health and society.  The U hosted a retreat Monday, bringing academics together to talk about what they have to contribute and how they can collaborate. 

Clearing the Air: Big Industry

Feb 28, 2013
Dan Bammes

The air pollution that we can see suspended in the cold air trapped during Utah’s infamous temperature inversions is called PM 2.5 – particulate matter 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller.  Just how much of that comes from large industrial polluters is a subject of some dispute, along with just what should be done about it. Dan Bammes has the third in our series of reports on Clearing the Air.

Andrea Smardon

As Utahns persist through one of the worst winter inversion seasons in a decade, many have focused their frustration and anger over dirty air on elected officials in the Utah legislature.  In part two of our series Clearing the Air, KUER News explores the  short and long term solutions lawmakers are proposing.

Study Looks at Uintah Basin Ozone

Feb 19, 2013
Dan Bammes

  After a year of studying winter ozone air pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin, a team of scientists has determined that oil and gas wells are causing most of the problem.  

The team at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus studied ozone last winter – when there were only a few inversion days and not much of a problem.  It’s been worse this year, and Seth Lyman with the Bingham Research Center says a big part of the problem is the volatile organic compounds such as benzene coming from thousands of oil and gas wells.

Compromise Delays Stream Access Bills

Feb 15, 2013
Dan Bammes

The battle over access to fishing streams in Utah probably won’t be resolved in this legislative session, but that was welcome news to anglers who brought the issue to the state capitol on Friday.

About 400 people who had gathered on the capitol steps cheered the news that the sponsor of House Bill 68 will hold on to his bill for now.  It would declare the state has met its obligations to keep streams open as a public trust.

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