Energy & Environment

Brian Grimmett

Utahns concerned about air quality can now get real-time updates right on their smartphone with a new app called “Utah Air.” The app is a joint project between the Utah Division of Air Quality and students at Weber State University.

SUWA

Before the Bill Barrett Corporation decided to sell its natural gas operations in the West Tavaputs Plateau of eastern Utah, it had worked out agreements with environmentalists for special protection in some areas. Those groups say the new owner, the EnerVest Corporation of Houston, needs to keep those promises.

Big Game Changes Open for Public Comment

Oct 30, 2013
Brent Stettler, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Last week, the Utah Divison of Wildlife released its annual agenda of proposed changes for 2014’s big game hunting season. The changes cover a wide range of hunting issues and also address a possible addition to the organization’s mule deer management plan.

Conservation Central at Utah Water Summit

Oct 30, 2013
Dave Webb Red Rock Adventures

Governor Gary Herbert has appointed a team of 37 water district managers, environmentalists, legislators and others to create a long-term strategy for water use and conservation in Utah.  The announcement came during a water summit meeting held today at Utah Valley University.

Governor Gary Herbert asked for a report based on a series of public listening sessions conducted around the state. The need for conserving Utah’s water resources came up over and over again in those meetings.

Dan Bammes

Last week, the Bill Barrett Corporation sold its natural gas properties in the West Tavaputs Plateau of eastern Utah for more than 300-million dollars. 

The deal was announced last week, but the buyer wasn’t disclosed.  Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, though, identify the buyer  as the EnerVest Corporation, based in Houston.  The transaction is valued at 371-million dollars.  EnerVest has drilling operations in Colorado and New Mexico as well as several other states in the South and Midwest.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he expects the federal government will reimburse the state for the money spent to keep its five National Parks open in the final days of the shutdown.

Utah Division of Air Quality

  Starting next week, the Utah Division of Air Quality will begin enforcing new rules on wood burning during winter inversions.  It's also changing its website, replacing the old red and yellow air quality alerts with a six-step system that's in use nationwide. Bryce Bird, the director of Utah's Division of Air Quality, sat down with KUER's Dan Bammes to talk about the changes.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

  A bird that spends only a few months in Utah each year could potentially change the way riverbank habitats are managed if it’s listed as a threatened species.  The Western yellow-billed cuckoo lives along river banks in heavy vegetation beneath stands of cottonwood trees.  That riparian habitat is disappearing in the West, and that’s why the U.S.

Governor Announces Clean Air Team

Oct 15, 2013
Utah Governor's Office

Governor Gary Herbert has created a committee with dozens of high-profile people from around the state to look at solutions to Utah’s air quality problems, while critics were blasting a state plan meant to meet stricter federal pollution standards. 

Governor Gary Herbert says everything’s on the table as his new Clean Air Action Team begins its work.  It’s led by Dan Lofgren of Envision Utah and includes 39 members, ranging from the chairman of Intermountain Health Care to Dan McArthur, the mayor of St. George.

File: Utah Division of Water Resources

Even with a decent start to the new water year last week, Todd Adams from the Utah Division of Water Resources says it’s time for Northern Utah residents to conserve by shutting down their automatic sprinkler systems now. But, he says, last month’s moisture was very helpful.

“It’s kind of strange because we ended up about somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of normal statewide based on our precipitation. A lot of that came in the last part of September which has helped us going into next year,” says Adams.

Groups Ask DAQ to Support Wood Burning Ban

Oct 1, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

Activist groups are planning to ask Utah’s state Air Quality Board to support a complete ban on wood burning for Utah's urban counties.

Andrea Smardon

As activists and community members step up the pressure to shut down a North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator, Stericycle officials are denying the company violated emissions limits or rigged stack test results. They are challenging a list of citations filed by Utah regulators against the company's incinerator. That means the beginning of a legal process that could take months.

Dan Bammes

As the clock ticks down on a possible shutdown of the federal government, Utah’s tourist industry is already hearing from worried visitors.  

Visitors to Utah’s five national parks could encounter locked gates if the government shuts down because Congress can’t agree on a funding bill.  Marian DeLay, the head of the Moab Travel Council, says foreign tourists in particular are telling Moab businesses they don’t want to get to Utah and find the parks closed.

Andrea Smardon

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich was in North Salt Lake City over the weekend to join the fight against Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator. Brockovich is lending her celebrity status and investigatory resources to community members who want the incinerator out of their neighborhood. Brockovich says she came to North Salt Lake because concerned mothers asked her to.

Should Utah Lease Its Share of the Colorado?

Sep 26, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Pat Mulroy, the long-time head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, announced her plans to retire this week.  She’s been a strong proponent of the plan to pump groundwater from the Great Basin to Las Vegas.  But she also suggested in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun that the project wouldn’t be necessary if Nevada could work out a deal with states such as Utah that hold water rights on the Colorado River.

Clean Air Groups Challenge Kennecott Expansion

Sep 24, 2013
Kennecott Utah Copper

  A hearing is underway this afternoon in federal court on a challenge to Kennecott’s plan to expand the Bingham Canyon copper mine.  Representatives from Utah Moms for Clean Air, Wild Earth Guardians, the Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment all say Kennecott can’t move ahead with its expansion without approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Doctor Brian Moench says that’s needed even though the Utah Division of Air Quality has already signed off on it.

New EPA Rules Boost the Cost of Power from Coal

Sep 24, 2013
University of Utah Carbon Science and Engineering Research Group

  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that would require new coal-fired power plants to capture carbon dioxide rather than sending it into the air.  University of Utah Professor Brian McPherson, who’s worked on ways to “sequester” carbon dioxide, says that could raise the cost of new coal plants to the point they’re no longer practical.  And he says the new rules give natural gas fired power plants an unfair advantage.

UDOT Considers Comments on West Davis Freeway

Sep 23, 2013
Dan Bammes

  The public comment deadline has passed on Utah Department of Transportation’s proposal to build a freeway from Farmington to Hooper.  Critics of the West Davis Corridor say UDOT needs to back up and take another look.

Steve Erickson is with a group promoting another alternative, the so-called “Shared Solution.”  It would scrap the freeway and instead improve east-west routes across the county leading to FrontRunner and I-15.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife

  The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has published a draft environmental assessment on its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Gunnison Sage Grouse in Utah and Colorado.  The Gunnison grouse is a smaller and rarer cousin of the greater sage grouse that lives in most of the states of the Mountain West. 

Energy and Enterprise Initiative

  Bob Inglis is a former Republican member of Congress from South Carolina, a conservative who was defeated by a candidate riding the Tea Party wave in 2010.  He's gone on to lead the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University in Virginia.  It's proposing a solution to the world's climate change problem based on conservative political values, and he'll be explaining that at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

  Utah’s governor has struck a deal with an oil company to hold off on drilling in an area of the Book Cliffs that’s prized for its wildlife habitat. 

The agreement between Governor Gary Herbert’s office, Anadarko Petroleum and the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, will allow a lease to go ahead.  But Robin Olsen with Anadarko says they won’t drill in the sensitive Bogart Canyon area before January of 2016.

Ted Wilson is UCAIR's New Director

Sep 12, 2013
Holly Mullen

  UCAIR – the program that encourages Utahns to voluntarily reduce air pollution  – has a new boss.  It’s Ted Wilson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City.

Until recently, Ted Wilson was working for the Talisker Corporation, the owners of The Canyons ski area.  He was picked by the Utah Clean Air Partnership Board to replace Shawni McAllister, who left for personal reasons.

Andrea Smardon

As angry residents continue to protest Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator and its toxic emissions, some local officials have been discussing the possibility of moving the plant to another location.

North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave met with Stericycle’s  Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs earlier this week. He says he thinks the incinerator should find another home outside the city, and that Stericycle may be open to that possibility.

State Air Quality Plan Ready for Public Comment

Sep 11, 2013
Dan Bammes

Utah’s State Air Quality Board has given its preliminary approval to a new plan for meeting federal air quality regulations on the Wasatch Front.

"Most of the residents of the valley are going to be breathing clean air sooner than 2019, so that’s a good thing," Bill Reiss, a planner with the Utah Division of Air Quality, explained to the Board of Air Quality.

Alton Coal Mine Expansion Still Facing Opposition

Sep 10, 2013
SUWA

  Environmentalists are reminding the Bureau of Land Management that public opposition to expanding a coal strip mine in Kane County hasn’t gone away.

The Sierra Club and other groups went to the BLM office in Salt Lake City to deliver more than 45-thousand public comments opposing the expansion of the coal mine.  The mine currently operates on private land near the town of Alton.  The agency is about to issue a supplemental environmental impact statement on the plan that could allow it to expand onto public land in the same area.

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

Republican State Senator Todd Weiler of Woods Cross says he’s filing a bill to ban medical waste incineration in Utah. The announcement comes after Stericycle’s North Salt Lake incinerator allegedly exceeded its permitted levels of toxic pollutants and falsified its emissions tests. Nearby residents and environmental activists have called for the incinerator to be closed down. 

School Board Backs Book Cliffs Leasing

Sep 6, 2013
Dan Bammes

  The State Board of Education has endorsed the decision by Utah’s state trust lands agency to move ahead with a drilling lease in the Book Cliffs, even though a member of Congress and the governor’s office was asking them to hold off. 

Book Cliffs Compromise in the Works

Sep 4, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

  Governor Gary Herbert’s office is trying to work out a deal with Utah’s state lands agency on a drilling lease in the Book Cliffs.  

Last week, Governor Herbert asked the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, to hold off on a drilling lease in an area of the Book Cliffs in Grand County.  Sportsmen’s groups and environmentalists say the area is pristine wildlife habitat and ought to be preserved.

Andrea Smardon

Erin Brockovich and her team of environmental activists have made their presence known to North Salt Lake officials.  An investigator who works with Brockovich spoke to city councilors and the mayor Tuesday night, asking them to exert some local control and help protect citizens from the air pollution emitted by Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator.

Group Criticizes State Management of Book Cliffs

Sep 3, 2013
Bureau of Land Managment

  An environmental group says the decision to lease a large area of the Book Cliffs for oil and gas exploration shows Utah can’t manage its own public lands.

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