Energy & Environment

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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Environment & Public Lands
4:41 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Escalante Oil Spill Prompts New Reporting Rule

Bureau of Land Management geologist James Holland looks at a recent erosion cut through an oil deposit believed to be around 40 years old.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Land Management

    

Managers of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are updating their rules for an oil-well operator. The policy change comes after recent reports of two spills at an oil field near the remote Little Valley Wash.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:32 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Utah Officials Work to Limit Grazing Dispute

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and Attorney General Sean Reyes meet with officials from the BLM
Spencer Cox

 Utah’s lieutenant governor and attorney general have brokered an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management not to bring cattle taken from public land in Nevada to a livestock auction in Utah.

This week, BLM officials started rounding up cattle belonging to the Bundy family from land the family has used for generations.  Federal courts have determined the cattle are trespassing, and the family owes more than a million dollars in grazing fees.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:00 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Earth Day Campaign Kicks Off New DEQ Blog

Credit Utah Department of Environmental Quality

    

Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality is launching a blog this week. It’s first posts focus on what they call the 12 days of Earth Day, leading into April 22. Amanda Smith is director of DEQ, and she’s kicking off the campaign.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:27 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Preliminary Study Links Air Pollution and Suicide

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide, and the 8th leading cause of death in Utah. A new University of Utah study finds a link between suicide and elevated pollution levels in spring and fall.
Credit Ryan Houston / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study from the University of Utah suggests yet another link between pollution and health hazards: a correlation between dirty air and suicide that’s spurring even more questions.

Amanda Bakian, an assistant professor of psychiatry, says preliminary findings show more people commit suicide when nitrogen dioxide is elevated. And when is fine-particle pollution is elevated. But she notes the correlation is puzzling because the suicide-pollution link is strongest in the seasons when pollution is generally not that high, spring and fall.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:40 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Utah-Mexico Trade Mission Aims for More Business, Less Smog

Oliver Alfaro talks to a reporter for KULX Telemundo Utah, a Spanish-language television station. Alfaro is an international tax manager for Deloitte who helped organize Governor Gary Herbert's upcoming trade mission to Mexico.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

    

Utah companies want to do business with Mexico, and more than three dozen of them are joining Governor Gary Herbert on a trade mission next week to swap ideas about improving commerce and quality of life.

Utah exports about $500 million to Mexico every year. Speaking at the Governors Economic Development Summit in Salt Lake on Thursday, Herbert said he believes there’s room to grow.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:51 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Salt Lake County Unveils New Electric Vehicle Super Charging Station

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams unveils new EV charging station at the County Building.
Brian Grimmett

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams unveiled a brand new electric vehicle charging station today at the County Building. It’s the first publicly operated EV charging station in the valley.

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Environment & Public Lands
7:30 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Questions Arise About the Role of Methane in Uintah Basin Air Quality

The Utah Division of Air Quality's monitoring station in Vernal, Utah
Dan Bammes

 The Utah Division of Air Quality has just released the third in a series of studies on the winter ozone problem in the Uintah Basin.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:14 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Utah Uranium Mill Wants More Time to Find Buyer

The owners of a Uranium processing plant near Lake Powell want more time to find a new buyer for the plant after a planned sale fell through recently. The Utah Division of Radiation Control is considering the request, while an environmental group says the plant should be decommissioned.
Credit Walter Anderson / Flickr Creative Commons

A Canadian company has asked Utah regulators to give them more time to find a buyer for an idle uranium mill near Lake Powell. One environmental group wants the mill to be decommissioned instead. 

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Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Clean Cars Help Utahns Cut Smog Now

Cars and trucks account for more than half of the pollution on the Wasatch Front. New regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have the same impact as taking 4 of every 5 of today's vehicles off the road. State leaders and clean-air advocates say it will be a powerful tool to clean up the air year-round, in Utah and throughout the country.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

New clean fuel, clean car standards promise to be the single best way to clean up Utah’s air. State leaders say they want to accelerate these so-called Tier 3 rules in Utah. Yet, car buyers are already taking matters into their own hands, at the steering wheel.

Another air-scrubbing storm has just passed through Salt Lake City. But Tom Hemmersmeier is still thinking about clean cars.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:24 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Impact Hub Salt Lake Tackles Air Quality

Impact Hub Salt Lake staff Ryan Chatterton and Alev Bilginsoy at the temporary "pop-up hub" at 44 Exchange Place in Salt Lake City. (March 24, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

Entrepreneurs, activists and policy makers are joining forces Wednesday to solve air quality problems along the Wasatch front. The new Impact Hub Salt Lake is hosting what they call an innovation lab focused on finding air pollution solutions.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:40 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Changing Climate Prompts New Warnings, Local Planning

Utah State University hosts the annual Spring Runoff Conference. Climate scientists will be among those talking about Utah's future in a changing global climate system.
Credit Utah State University

  The world’s leading climate scientists and policymakers met in Japan over the weekend and released their latest assessment of global warming. They agree the climate is heating up because people burn so much fossil fuel.

Here in Utah, leaders are brainstorming about how to deal with the changing climate.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:52 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Writer Considers Clean Coal in Global Warming Fight

Steam and smoke rise from the cooling towers and chimneys of the Robert W. Scherer power plant, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. The Juliette, Georgia, coal-fired plant burns 12 million tons of coal a year.
Credit Robb Kendrick / National Geographic

National Geographic Magazine’s latest cover story asks whether coal energy can be clean energy. It’s an important question for anyone concerned about climate change impacts and for states like Utah that mine coal for power plants.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:32 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Citizen Scientists Sought to Track Kestrels

Hawkwatch's Shawn Hawks cleans out a nesting box to make it ready for a new kestrel family.
Credit Judy Fahys

    

Biologists worry about the kestrel’s decline. So a Utah nonprofit is looking for citizen scientists to help understand the reasons behind the bird’s downward trend.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:00 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Congress, Utah Lawmaker Blamed for Stalling Conservation

A liberal advocacy group blames Congress for blocking progress on national conservation efforts in a departure from a longstanding bipartisan tradition. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar singles out U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, for being behind the lack of progress.
Credit Equal Ground Campaign

A Utahn is in line to lead the House panel that oversees the nation’s public lands. But advocates doubt Congressman Rob Bishop will pick up the tradition of bipartisan support for conservation if he gets the job leading the House Natural Resources Committee.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:00 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Utah Prairie Dog Story Prompts Stewart's Endangered Species Bill

The Center for Biological Diversity points to the Utah prairie dog as an Endangered Species Act success story.
Credit Center for Biological Diversity

Federal law restricts some development in Iron County to protect the Utah prairie dog. But a Utah congressman says it’s a case where the federal Endangered Species Act should be improved.

Republican Chris Stewart wants to change the way the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counts species in peril. He’s introduced the Endangered Species Improvement Act in Congress.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:55 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Air Quality Advocates Grade Lawmakers

Air quality advocates present their grades for lawmakers at the Utah Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Clean air advocates released their grades for Utah lawmakers Tuesday. Compared to past legislative sessions, lawmakers showed improvement, but advocates say there is still a lot of work to be done. 

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Environment & Public Lands
5:45 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Scientist: Fossil Plants Help Tell Planet's Past, Present and Future

Scientist Scott Wing talks about what plant fossils can tell about climate change.
Credit Ira Block

Fossils tell the story of the world’s past and the next Frontiers of Science lecture will explore what the fossils also say about current times and the future.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:57 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Report Provides Risk Tool for Geohazards Near Zion National Park

North Fork of Virgin River flood.
Credit Utah Geological Survey

    

The rock and soil that makes the redrock country around Zion Canyon so picturesque, also makes it dangerous sometimes. A new geology report details the hazards.

Soil and rock crashed into a Rockville home last winter and killed the two people who lived there. This is the sort of tragedy the Utah Geological Survey hopes to avert in its new report on significant hazards on State Route 9 near Zion National Park. Bill Lund is one of the study’s authors.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:06 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Air Quality Commands Lawmakers' Attention

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, speaks at the pre-Legislature rally attended by thousands of Utahns fed up with poor air quality. Arent created the Clean Air Caucus, whose members championed several bills to passage during the 2014 Session.
Credit Judy Fahys

  

  The Salt Lake Valley was choking with winter pollution as the Legislature convened in January. Lawmakers were compelled to step up to the challenge to clear the air.

Thousands of Utahns rallied for air pollution solutions outside the state Capitol the weekend before lawmakers settled in. No one could remember another time that so many people came together to demand a stop to the smog. Sara Baldwin Auck is an advocate for Utah Clean Energy.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:52 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Lawmakers Caught in Transmission Line Power Play

TransWest Express LLC wants to build and operate an electricity transmission line. House Bill 44 would require TransWest to offer capacity on its line to Utah companies. Investor-owned TransWest says its too soon for contracts like that that and vows to sue if lawmakers pass the bill.
Credit TransWest Express LLC

    

As the legislative session winds down, lawmakers find themselves in the middle of a power play between energy businesses over an interstate electric transmission line.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:46 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Agency Seeks Public Comment on Refuge Drilling

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to hear from the public on its plans to allow two companies to drill and operate energy wells in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. This is a view of the Green River at the refuge.
Credit Jaclyn Kircher / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    

Two energy companies are seeking permission to drill in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Utah. The federal agency reviewing the proposal is now ready to hear from the public.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working for two years with the companies behind the drilling plans. Thurston Energy and Ultra Resources plan a total of 11 wells in their separate projects. The Uinta Basin already has over 10,000 oil and gas wells, so the new ones might not seem like much. But the wildlife refuge exists to safeguard wildlife and its habitat.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:01 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Quarter for Clean Air Bill Heads to Senate

The Sugar House streetcar is one of the transit projects that gets cars office the road. The Quarter for Clean Air bill is would help remove even more pollution from Utah's air.
Credit Utah Transit Authority

The Utah House passed a bill Friday to allow communities to raise local sales tax rates to pay for transit projects. Supporters say it would help clean up Utah’s air.

Utah’s clean air advocates like the Quarter for Clean Air bill. So do local communities that would like revenue to put more buses on the road and expand service hours. Justin Jones is communications director for the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. He says Utah’s business sees it as an important keep Utah growing wisely.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:25 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

House Advances Bill to Reduce Wood-stove Pollution

Sooty pollution from wood stoves would be cut with a bill to educate the public and help around 200 households that heat with wood in high-pollution areas to switch to cleaner sources.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

  A bill to reduce wood-stove soot in Utah’s high-pollution areas is headed to the Senate after receiving House approval Thursday. The bill would help fund programs to help people who rely on woodstoves alone to convert to cleaner home-heating alternatives.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:52 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Jewell at Weber State: Bring Youth Back

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
U.S. Department of the Interior

  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told students at Weber State University today she wants to get more young people involved in the outdoors.  She was the keynote speaker at Weber State’s Sustainability Summit.

Jewell says recent budget cuts and the government shutdown really hurt the National Park Service and other agencies in her department.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:57 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Storms Boost Snowpack But Forecasters Remain Cautious

Four storms last month augmented northern Utah's meager snowpack. Forecasters and water managers remain hopeful but cautious.
Credit Nomadic Lass

Utah's water picture looked grim about a month ago. But February storms have brightened the outlook.

Two years of lower-than-normal precipitation had left many Utah reservoirs half-full at the beginning of the year. Winter storms didn’t help much either, since the snow seemed to fall everywhere east of Utah's mountains. Brian McInerney is a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. He says back-to-back storms over the past month have boosted the snow pack on the Wasatch Range.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Grants Help Small Businesses Reduce Emissions

ACS Precision Finish auto body shop tests out new water-based paint system that will help the company reduce its emissions.
Andrea Smardon

Small businesses now have access to funding that will help improve air quality. The UCAIR Air Assist program offers funds to small businesses to buy equipment upgrades that will reduce emissions. The first grant recipient is an auto body shop in Salt Lake City.

ACS Precision Finish is using about $15,000 of state money to upgrade from a solvent to a water-based paint system. Corey Kaggie, a painter in the shop, is dressed in a white protective body suit, goggles, and a face mask. She says the new paint certainly smells better.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:50 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Utah Supreme Court Weighs Tar Sands Project

The Utah Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could clear the way for the nation's first tar sands mine in Utah's Book Cliffs.
Credit Kent Miles, Courtesy of the Utah State Courts

    

The Utah Supreme Court is considering whether a Canadian company can begin mining tar sands in the Book Cliffs in eastern Utah. If approved it would be the nation’s first commercial tar sands operation.

John Weisheit is conservation director for the Moab-based environmental group Living Rivers. He says the Utah Division of Water Quality should have required the mine to get a pollution permit for its tar sands mine. Regulators insist there is no water to pollute. But Weisheit says the mine site drains into the Green, White and Colorado Rivers.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

DAQ Report: A Few More Inversion Days

DAQ's mobile phone app provides information on current air quality conditions
Brian Grimmett

  Utah’s winter inversion season ended on March 1st.  The Division of Air Quality says there were 31 days when the urban areas of Utah exceeded the federal Ambient Air Quality standards, compared to 29 the year before.  But Bryce Bird, the director of the Division of Air Quality, says what’s really changed is public interest in the issue.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:22 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Utah Embraces National Clean Car, Clean Fuel Standards

Supporters of Tier 3 point to this EPA map that shows northern Utah will benefit more than any other spot in the nation from the new clean car, clean gas regulations. Tier 3 is phased in over the next 16 years under the schedule announced Monday
Credit Environmental Protection Agency

    

Utah will see bigger clean air benefits than anywhere else under new federal regulations that even have the support of some Republicans. Cars and trucks are responsible for more than half of Utah’s summer and winter smog. That’s why so many people are excited about the EPA’s new Tier 3 standard for cleaner cars and cleaner fuel. Bryce Bird is director of the state Division of Air Quality. He explains how it works.

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