Environews, Regulars and Shorts

Environews: April 2009

By Amy Brunvand

Environmental news from around the state and the west.

by Amy Brunvand

New book on Desolation Canyon and Green River

Desolation Canyon is one of the West’s wild treasures-and one of the areas recently saved by the decision of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to withdraw Bush era oil and gas leases. This new book describes the natural history, pre-history and history of the river that flows through the largest roadless area in the lower 48 states not designated as wilderness or a national park.
“The River Knows Everything: Desolation Canyon and the Green,” by James M. Aton, photography by Dan Miller. Utah State University Press. $35.

Sunset Magazine dubs SLC “eco-friendly”

The March 2009 issue of Sunset listed Salt Lake City among their “favorite eco-friendly small towns” in the West. Sunset editors admitted, “Okay, it’s not small, but SLC has received about every available accolade for its green policies, including its e2 Citizen program to help address climate change.”
Salt Lake City Green: www.slcgreen.com/

How did the 2009 Utah Legislature do?

Here is a round-up of the good and (mostly) bad environmental bills that passed during the 2009 general session of the Utah Legislature. As of this writing, it is possible that Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. could veto some of the worst offenders, but by the time you read this it will be too late. (Note: SJR and HR are nonbinding.)


▶SJR1: directs the State Energy Program to consider developing a model ordinance for wind energy development.

▶HB120: Snake Valley Aquifer Research Team and Advisory Council. But unfortunately, they won’t be funded to do original research on the aquifer.

▶SJR4: Recycling of Electronic Waste Joint Resolution. Urges Utah residents to reduce their electronic waste by reuse and recycling.

▶SB102: Share the Road Special Group License Plate. Authorizes a car license plate advocating bicycle safety.

Good and very bad:

▶HB430: Economic Development In­cen­tives for Alternative Energy Projects sounds good, but on the last day of the session, Sen. Sheldon Killpack (R-Syra­cuse) amended it to include nuclear power as renewable energy.



▶HR3: Resolution on Energy Policy. Urging the Governor to withdraw from the Western Climate Initiative.

▶SJR16: Joint Resolution Supporting Nuclear Power. Need I say more?

▶SB68: Mining Protection Amend­ments. Makes it easier for mining companies to mine underneath property where someone else owns surface rights.

▶HB169, HB278: Bills sponsored by Rep Mike Noel (R-Kanab) to divert state money to bogus RS2477 road claims on federal lands, meanwhile making the state’s claims secret. Up to 30% of county road maintenance funds could be spent for speculative litigation to gain control of imaginary rural highway rights of way.

▶HB437: Obstruction of Natural Resource or Agricultural Production. Again, sponsored by Mike Noel (R-Kanab), redefines Tim DeChristopher’s act of civil disobedience at a BLM oil and gas lease auction as a 3rd degree felony.

▶HB272: Utah Scenic Byway Desig­na­tion Amendments. Makes it harder for roads in Utah to be designated as scenic byways.

‘Tis the season to urge Congress to support redrock wilderness.

In Washington, D.C. the new 111th Congress begun its first session, and this February, 50 wilderness activists from around the country visited congressional offices the goal of convincing members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) plan to formally introduce the bill in early April. That means it’s time once again to encourage your out-of-state friends to write their congressional representatives and senators in support of Utah Wilderness (and while we are at it, let’s remind the Utah delegation how many Utah citizens support wilderness).
SUWA Redrock Wilderness Act information: www.suwa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=work_arwa


This article was originally published on March 30, 2009.