Energy & Environment

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jewell at Weber State: Bring Youth Back

Mar 6, 2014
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.

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.

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.

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.

DAQ Report: A Few More Inversion Days

Mar 4, 2014
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.

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.

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

Environmental investigators working with Erin Brockovich have uncovered some new evidence that hazardous chemicals are accumulating in the homes of those who live close to Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake.  An investigator from the Brockovich team and community advocates met with Governor Gary Herbert Wednesday to share their findings.

Invasive Mussels Exposed at Lake Powell

Feb 26, 2014
Natalie Muth, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

  Low water levels in Lake Powell have revealed a much bigger problem with quagga mussels than was previously believed.

The invasive mussels have been spreading through waterways across North America.  They can damage dams and power plants as well as fisheries.  Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says the water level in Lake Powell has dropped by about eight feet over the past year, and that’s revealed some huge numbers of the tiny shellfish clinging to exposed rocks.

Utah House lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow state-specific solutions to air pollution.

Republican Rep. Becky Edwards, R- North Salt Lake, has a bill to loosen a law that prevents state environmental rules from being stricter than federal ones. She says Utah knows how to clean up its air better than the federal government does.

“HB121 allows for local control to address our local needs,” says Edwards. “This is another example of how states are more effective and do things better than the federal one-size-fits all solutions.”

Brian Grimmett

A bill that would prohibit the permitting of new medical waste incinerators within two miles of a residential community passed a legislative committee Friday, and now heads to the state Senate for consideration. A Republican lawmaker’s bill has succeeded where a Democrat’s bill failed.

Summit Studies Future of Sage Grouse

Feb 18, 2014
Dan Bammes

Biologists, environmentalists and government agencies are meeting this week to work on plans to protect the sage grouse.  They all agree on one goal – preventing the bird from being listed as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must make a decision on an endangered species listing by the end of September next year.  That decision could depend on whether it judges an environmental impact statement from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to be adequate.