Energy & Environment

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. 

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

 Audio Filestory audioEdit | Remove

  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.

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