Energy & Environment

Environment & Public Lands
3:53 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Utah Settles With Feds on Road Access in Juab County

SUWA's map of RS 2477 road claims on public land in Utah.
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

The federal government has agreed to open up public access to three disputed roads in Juab County’s Deep Creek Mountains. With a judge’s approval, the state of Utah and Juab County can now claim ownership of Trout Creek, Deep Creek and Granite Canyon Roads, which had for years been off limits to motorists because they crossed federally protected lands. 

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Environment & Public Lands
12:40 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Summit County Gets $500K for Emergency Watershed Protection

File photo of aerial seeding beginning soon on the Rockport Fire area. Summit County Public Works Director Kevin Callahan says residents have already been notified seeding efforts will be underway soon.
Credit Google images

As fire crews deal with the aftermath of the Rockport wildfire, $500,000 dollars in federal Emergency Watershed Protection has been approved and is available. Mudslides are a common problem following this kind of wildfire devastation. The Summit County Public Works Director, Kevin Callahan, is also the County’s Emergency Manager. He says he talked last week with officials from U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:39 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Erin Brockovich Takes on Stericycle’s North Salt Lake Incinerator

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich is turning her attention to North Salt Lake City. At the request of residents, Brockovich and her team have decided to conduct an independent investigation into air pollution violations by Stericycle and the company’s medical waste incinerator. Angry residents and activists are protesting in front of Stericycle Thursday evening demanding that Governor Gary Herbert shut it down.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:58 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Energy Groups Call on Policymakers to Promote Electric Vehicles

Utah Clean Energy

Utah’s Public Service Commission is meeting at the Capitol this week to discuss options for improving air quality along the Wasatch Front through the use of alternative-energy vehicles.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature tasked the Public Service Commission to investigate how alternative-energy vehicles can improve air quality along the Wasatch Front. Kevin Emerson of Utah Clean Energy was at the first of this week’s hearings. He says electric vehicles are the best way to reduce emissions.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:40 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Frustrated Neighbors Step up Pressure on Stericycle's Medical Waste Incinerator

Stericycle's incinerator is visible from a playground in the Foxboro neighborhood of North Salt Lake.
Andrea Smardon

Activist groups and North Salt Lake residents are planning another protest of Stericycle, a medical waste incinerator accused of violating pollution limits and falsifying emissions tests.  The event on August 15th is being planned after state regulators gave the company a second extension to decide if it will challenge the allegations against them.

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Environment & Public Lands
10:33 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Wildflowers Proposed for Endangered Species List

The White River penstemon (Penstemon scariousus var. albifluvis)
US Fish and Wildlife Service

  The federal government is planning to protect two kinds of wildflower that grow only in eastern Utah and western Colorado – and only in areas where there are oil shale or tar sands.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:21 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Utah Companies Hit By Drop in World Potash Market

Sulfate of potash dries in the sun at Great Salt Lake Minerals in Ogden, Utah
Dan Bammes

  The world market for potash took a hit last week when a Russian marketing consortium fell apart.  That could cause some difficulty for companies doing business in Utah.

Potash is used for fertilizer, and it was selling in the range of $400 a ton last week when a big producer in Russia said it would quit working with its marketing group and increase its output.  That led some traders to predict the price could drop below $300 a ton.

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Environment & Public Lands
10:04 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Chevron to Pay $384,000 for Clean Air Act Violations at Salt Lake City Refinery

arbyreed Creative Commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a settlement with Chevron. The company has agreed to pay a $384,000 penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Salt Lake City.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:13 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Interior Facing Cuts in GOP Budget

Rock formation in The Gorge along the Burr Trail on BLM land in Garfield County, UT
Dan Bammes

  The Secretary of the Interior is trying to persuade Republicans in Congress not to eliminate funding for a land conservation program by linking it to another they typically support.  

Secretary Sally Jewell held a conference call with reporters to point out the economic activity linked to tourism, energy production and other activities on public land.  She put it at more than 13-billion dollars, well above the total budget of 11-point-9 billion for the whole department.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:11 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Fish Deaths in Provo River a Mystery

The Provo River at Paul Ream Wilderness Park in Provo, UT

More than 300 dead fish were found yesterday in a stretch of the Provo River near Paul Ream Wilderness Park in northwest Provo.  Most were brown trout, but there were a few whitefish and other species.  Biologist Chris Crockett with the Division of Wildlife Resources says they don’t know what killed them.  It’s possible the hot weather depleted oxygen in the water, but they’re also trying to find out if there was some kind of toxic spill.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:25 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Groups Sue DAQ Over Refinery Expansion

Tesoro Corporation

Environmental groups are suing the Utah Division of Air Quality hoping to stop an oil and gas refinery expansion the regulator approved in Salt Lake City.  The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment say the expansion would move the state further out of compliance with federal air quality standards.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:35 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Land Deal Creates Critter Credits

A prairie dog burrow next to the airport runway in Parowan, UT
Alicia Geesman

  Utah’s state lands agency has a thousand prairie dog credits to sell.  They’re the result of a land deal that helps to keep the critters away from airport runways in southern Utah. 

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Environment & Public Lands
9:57 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Video: See How Dangerous Flash Flooding Can Be in Southern Utah

David Rankin

This week parts of Southern Utah have been hit hard with heavy rains and flash flooding. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch today for most of Southern Utah around Dixie and Zion National Parks. These storms can be extremely dangerous, especially around slot canyons and dry washes where a flood can hit hours after rain fell miles away.

Environment & Public Lands
1:19 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

More Wild Horses Will Stay on the Range

A wild horse roundup on public land in Utah
Bureau of Land Management

  More wild horses will be left on the range as the government runs out of places to put them.  Here in Utah, there are no plans to remove horses from public land this year.  

It’s not unusual for Utah to go several years without removing wild horses from public rangeland, though it’s not uncommon to see mustangs from Nevada and other states brought here for adoption.  Lisa Reid with the Bureau of Land Management says there are actually more mustangs in government holding facilities than there left on the range.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:37 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

North Marina at Willard Bay State Park Reopens

A view of a restricted area of Willard Bay State Park after a fuel spill in March. State Park officials reopened the park to the public on Friday
Dan Bammes

After being closed for months following a fuel spill, the north marina at Willard Bay State Park is reopening to the public.    

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Environment & Public Lands
1:33 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Repeal of HB 155 on Special Session Agenda

Sego lilies, Utah's state flower, growing on BLM land near Moab, UT
Dan Bammes

  One of the items on the agenda of Wednesday’s special legislative session is the possible repeal of a controversial bill restricting the authority of federal law enforcement officers.  KUER’s Dan Bammes has more.

House Bill 155 limits the authority of Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service personnel to enforce state laws on public land, and threatens them with prosecution if they try it.  A federal court has issued an injunction preventing the state from implementing the law.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:08 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Interest Fading in SkiLink Project

Big Cottonwood Canyon
Dan Bammes

  Support for the SkiLink – a tram that would connect Park City with Big Cottonwood Canyon – appears to be fading away.  

The Salt Lake Tribune reports members of Utah’s Congressional delegation have backed off their support for a bill to sell 30 acres of Forest Service land on the crest of the Wasatch Range for the SkiLink project . . . and a new management deal signed by the owners of the Canyons ski resort could also mean diminished interest in pursuing the idea.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:05 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Funding Approved for Nine Mile Canyon Road

Petroglyphs in Nine-Mile Canyon, Utah
Wikimedia Commons

  Nine-Mile Canyon is home to priceless rock art – thousands of Native American petroglyphs on the canyon walls.  But it’s also a major transportation route for oil and gas development in eastern Utah.  

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Environment & Public Lands
1:07 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Audit Finds Problems at Utah Division of Air Quality

Staker-Parson's operations on Beck Street in Salt Lake City

The Utah Division of Air Quality regulates airborne dust and other pollution from sand and gravel operations – and a new legislative audit says it could be doing a better job.  

The Legislative Auditor General’s office cites lost paperwork, long delays and enforcement of permits that haven’t been issued yet as problems in the way the division regulates sand and gravel operations.

Bryce Bird, the director of the Division of Air Quality, says it’s clear there’s room for improvement.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:35 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

State Officials Warn of Invisible Ozone Threat

A chart of pollution levels at Hogan Park in Woods Cross

Utah regulators are trying to educate people on the dangers of ozone, an invisible gas produced by smog that doctors say taxes the lungs of even healthy people.

The press conference took place under clear blue skies at a park in Woods Cross, with children playing nearby. It seemed like a nice day, but Director of the state’s Division of Air Quality Bryce Bird says ozone often goes overlooked because people can't see it.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:03 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

New Study Quantifies Water Lost to Seepage at Lake Powell

Lake Powell
Wikimedia Commons

  The new study in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association estimates about 380,000 acre-feet of water a year is lost when it soaks into the lake's sandstone banks each year.  That’s more than the state of Nevada is entitled to take from the river under a 1922 interstate compact.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:49 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Stericycle May Lose its Permit to Operate Medical Waste Incinerator

The state’s Director of the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) says there is a possibility the agency will revoke the permit of Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake.  DAQ Director Bryce Bird met with concerned members of the community, and health and environmental advocates today (WED). They called on the agency to shut down the incinerator, which they say is an urgent public health threat.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:25 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

North Salt Lake Residents Upset About Unfiltered Emissions from Medical Waste Incinerator

Stericycle uses its bypass stack during a power outage.
North Salt Lake resident Natasha Hincks Henderson

North Salt Lake residents are stepping up pressure to close a medical waste incinerator in their neighborhood. Environmental and health advocates are joining them in a protest outside Stericycle’s incinerator Tuesday evening, and representatives from the group will be meeting with the Director of the state’s Division of Air Quality to voice their concerns Wednesday morning. Among the protestors concerns is the use of a bypass stack which allows the company to release unfiltered, toxic pollutants like dioxin and mercury directly into the air.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:25 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Willard Bay North Marina Will Stay Closed Past July 4th

The ongoing cleanup at Willard Bay State Park's North Marina will keep the beach closed this holiday weekend.
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.  

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Environment & Public Lands
5:40 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Why Environmental Activists Want a North Salt Lake Medical Waste Incinerator Closed Down

Stericycle's medical waste incinerator burns near a North Salt Lake neighborhood.
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.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:32 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Western States Endorse Plan for Mini-Nuclear Plant

NuScale's small nuclear reactor design
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.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:09 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Why Doesn't Utah's Ozone Pollution Just Blow Away?

Air Pollution Trends from the Utah Division of Air Quality website
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.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:47 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Western Governors Release 10-Year Energy Vision

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at the WGA meeting in Park City, UT
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. 

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Environment & Public Lands
4:08 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Jewell Promises Local Input on Public Lands Decisions

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaks to the Western Governors Association Meeting in Park City, UT
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.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:57 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Water Conservation Coalition Calls for Audit of Utah Division of Water Resources

Gooseberry Reservoir in Sanpete County, Utah
Credit 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.

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