Regulars and Shorts

Enviro Update: December 2006

By Amy Brunvand

Keeping up with Utah's enviro happenings.
White River Wilderness at Risk
The White River near Vernal is one of Utah’s natural treasures, a popular destination for canoeing and rafting. It has been proposed for designation as a wilderness area, as well as an area of critical environmental concern and a Wild and Scenic River corridor. The White River  is also under immediate threat from oil and gas development. As of November, the BLM Vernal field office was set to approve construction of gas wells, drilling pads, roads and pipelines through areas that the BLM itself has identified as having wilderness quality. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the Environmental Assessment for the area (the document the BLM has used to justify development) was done improperly since it failed to consider cumulative impacts of development in the overall White River region.
SUWA White River Wilderness information:

SLC Council supports green building
Whereas: the City desires to promote sound environmental practices in construction work that is funded by the city, on November 8 the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously for an ordinance that requires city-funded construction to obtain Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building council. LEED standards promote sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
U.S. Green Building Council:

Sign the Global Warming Initiative
Whereas: reducing Utah’s overall greenhouse gas emissions in order to help assure a healthy planet for future generations is simply the right thing to do, The Sierra Club Utah Chapter is gathering signatures on a petition urging Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. to issue a Resolution and Executive Order that will set greenhouse gas reduction targets for the entire state. The resolution would adopt a targeted reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012. 
Add your name to the petition:

Winter driving tips for clean air
Did you know? In winter conditions, emissions from an idling vehicle are more than double the normal level immediately after a “cold start.” Once a vehicle is running, the best way to warm it up is to drive it. Once your car is warm, combine all your errands into one run and select your route carefully. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality offers these and other winter driving tips to help minimize fuel consumption and pollution levels.
DEQ Winter Driving Tips:

Court dismisses off-road vehicle suit
In September the 10th Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Utah Shared Use Alliance (USA-ALL), Utah’s largest motorized access advocacy group, complaining that the Bureau of Land Management had exceeded its authority when it imposed restrictions on off-road vehicle use in Box Elder and Grand counties. Environmentalists including The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, The Wilderness Society and Wildlands CPR defended BLM’s action. The court ruled that an “emergency” is not necessary to for the BLM to place ORV restrictions on public lands, and noted somewhat wryly, “USA-ALL maintains that NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) compliance is necessary for the closure of public transportation routes, which it apparently understands Utah’s wilderness areas to be.”
Wildlands CPR report:

This article was originally published on December 1, 2006.