Keeping up with Utah's Enviro happenings.
Washington Land Use Hearing Scheduled
A congressional hearing on the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act (S 3636/H.R. 5769) is scheduled for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on November 16. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance fears that following the hearing there may be an attempt to combine the Washington County bill with other legislation in an effort to get it passed without having to stand on its own merits. The bill is especially objectionable because it would sell off large areas of public lands and put the money into the hands of private developers. Conservationists are deeply concerned that the bill could set a terrible precedent for local governments nationwide to view federal lands sales as a possible source of revenue.
SUWA Zion/Mojave information: www.zionmojavewilderness.org/
Environmental Scorecard Ranks U.S. Congress
The League of Conservation Voters has released its annual environmental scorecard which shows how members of Congress voted on key environmental legislation. The rating scale goes from 0 (no pro-environment votes) to 100 (a perfect voting record on environmental issues). Both of Utah's House Republicans voted against the environment every time, including votes in favor of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and against the Clean Water Act. Utah's senators avoided a zero rating by voting for a bill to help low-income families weatherize their homes.
Here are the 2006 environmental rankings for Utah's congressional delegation:
House LCV Rating
Rob Bishop (R-1) 0
Jim Matheson (D-2) 57
Chris Cannon (R-3) 0
Bob Bennett 7
Orrin Hatch 11
2006 National Environmental Scorecard: www.lcv.org/scorecard/
Global Warming Threatens "Greatest Snow on Earth"
Utah's elected officials may not be worried about global warming, but Utah's ski industry certainly is. The "2006 State of the Rockies Report" from Colorado College predicts that due to worsening snow conditions, winter snow sports could become unavailable in the western U.S. as soon as 2050. By 2085 snowpack in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons could decline by as much as 84%. In response, Ski Utah has joined the "keep winter cool" campaign, a partnership between the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Ski Areas Association to improve public understanding of global warming and spotlight opportunities to start fixing the problem.
2006 State of the Rockies Report: www.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/
Keep Utah Cool: www.keeputahcool.com/
Factory Butte gets protection from ORVs
Thanks to pressure from environmental groups like Friends of Factory Butte and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Bureau of Land Management has restricted off-road vehicle travel to designated routes on 142,023 acres of public lands around Factory Butte, the spectacular Mancos Shale badlands along Highway 24 near Capitol Reef National Park. The notice says that the new rules are necessary to protect endangered cacti because ORV use has significantly increased in the area.
Friends of Factory Butte: www.factorybutte.org/
Utah's Redrock: Too Wild to Drill
A new report from The Wilderness Society includes Utah's Redrock Wilderness in a list of threatened U.S. public lands that should be excluded from oil and gas development because they offer immeasurable value for recreation, wilderness and wildlife habitat. According to the report, sacrificing Utah's redrock wouldn't even help solve the problem of foreign oil dependence. The Wilderness Society estimates that , "…undiscovered natural gas and oil resources on lands within America's Redrock Wilderness Act amount to less than four weeks of natural gas and roughly four days of oil at current United States consumption levels."
Too Wild to Drill report: www.wilderness.org/ OurIssues/Energy/TooWildToDrill.cfm