Energy & Environment

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.

Gov. Herbert Resists Oil Leasing in Book Cliffs

Aug 27, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert is asking Utah’s state lands agency not to lease about 20-thousand acres in the Book Cliffs for oil and gas drilling.  Sportsmen and environmental groups have said the area near Bogart Canyon needs to be protected as wildlife habitat. 

The governor told reporters at the state capitol Thursday afternoon the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, has done a good job getting money out of Utah’s state lands, but in this case, it needs to look at a long-term strategy that could bring in even more in the long run.

DAQ to Release Draft Air Plan September 11th

Aug 27, 2013
winter air inversion
Erik Crossman - University of Utah

  The state of Utah missed a deadline last December for submitting a plan to federal authorities to reduce air pollution on the Wasatch Front.  But the public will get a look at a new draft plan in a couple of weeks.

BLM Puts San Rafael Swell Areas Up For Auction

Aug 22, 2013

The federal Bureau of Land Management intends to lease nearly one hundred forty thousand acres in and around the San Rafael Swell in eastern Utah for oil and gas drilling. Many conservationist groups are angry about the lease auction, which is set to take place in November. 

The BLM itself has deemed much of the land to have wilderness and recreational value, but BLM Spokesperson Megan Crandall says that they decide whether to manage lands for wilderness uses or for other uses, like development.

<i>Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance</i>

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. 

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.

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.

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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