Environmental Politics, Think
Environews: February 2010
Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Nine Mile Canyon agreement signed
Oil and Gas exploration placed Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, but an agreement signed on January 5 will help mitigate the harmful effects of dust generated by truck traffic through the canyon. In addition, the agreement will provide for archeological and ethnographic surveys in order to develop visitor interpretation of the rock art sites.
Salazar says oil & gas not “kings of the world”
Following recommendations of an interdisciplinary review team that studied the controversial 2008 oil and gas lease sale in Utah (the one Tim DeChristopher protesed) Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to reform the onshore oil and gas leasing process of the federal government. An outraged editorial in Oil & Gas Journal reported that during a teleconference on the new rules Salazar said, “I think the change is that in the past, the public lands were the central candy store where the oil industry walked in and took what it wanted. That’s not how it should be done,” and furthermore, “I think the difference was that [oil and gas producers] were essentially kings of the world in the prior administration. Whatever they wanted to happen, happened.” Despite industry protests that new rules would restrict access to energy sources on federal lands, Salazar sensibly pointed out that one reason for reform is to avoid public protests that can take years to resolve. For instance, in 2008 40% of federal oil and gas leases were under protest.
BLM Energy Reform www.doi.gov/news/doinews/BLM_energy_reform.cfm
Climate scientist to speak on CO2
Tyler Volk, author of “CO2 Rising: The Earth’s Greatest Environmental Challenge,” will give two presentations in Salt Lake. Volk is a professor of Biology at NYU and a proponent of the Gaia Theory—that Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, soil and life form a unified system. “CO2 Rising” has been praised as a clear, straightforward explanation of how the carbon cycle works and why we need an urgent response to climate change.
Thursday, Feb 11, 7p. Kings English Bookshop (1511 S 1500 E). Presentation and book signing.
Friday, Feb 12, 7p. Orson Spenser Hall Auditorium (U of U). Keynote lecture for the conference “Working for Peace, Social Justice and a Healthy Planet.” The conference is free and open to the public, Friday and Saturday, Feb 12 and 13. University of Utah, Orson Spencer Hall complete schedule: http://utahjwj.org/hpmc/event20100212.html
Becker lists environmental achievements
Last month Mayor Becker convinced the City Council to vote in favor of releasing funds for a soccer complex that would consume the last bit of public-owned riparian corridor along the Jordan River. [See “Sold Down the Jordan River” and “Birds vs. Balls,” Jan. CATALYST.] This precedent setting unsustainable decision stunned many supporters.
In that same meeting on Mayor Becker made his “State of the City, 2010” address. He said the livability of Salt Lake City depends on environment, efficiency, equality and engagement. For 2010 he promised that Salt Lake City will adopt a comprehensive sustainability ordinance that “includes increasing the places and ways residents and businesses can capture renewable energy, conserve water used on outdoor landscaping, and produce food locally in the urban environment,” such as the recently approved beekeeping and urban chicken farming ordinances. He also cited a long list of environmental achievements from the past year:
• 38 miles of new bike lanes
• Recruited Becka Roolf as bicycle/
• Advanced the Sugar House streetcar pro
ject, and continued construction of SL Airport light rail line
• Unveiled the Clear the Air Challenge and the Idle-Free campaigns
• Completed riparian corridor studies along the Emigration and Red Butte Creeks
• Identified projects for a DoE Energy Efficiency and Conservation block grant
• Reduced resource consumption and waste in city government and services
• UTA mass transit passes for city employees
• Downtown glass recycling program
• Street light energy audit
Editor’s note: These are good and needed. Collectively, they do not make up for the havoc poised to be wrought along the Jordan.
State of the City, 2010: http://www.ci.slc.ut.us/mayor/speeches/2010/soc10.pdf
Bad air = drive less
Salt Lake City spent a week in January with the unhappy distinction of having the worst air quality in the nation, and as Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said in his State of the City speech, “Our air quality is unacceptable and threatens our City’s livability.”
The Utah Division of Air Quality offers 50 Winter Suggestions to help fix our air quality, and the number one tip is: Drive Less. (Maybe play on soccer fields closer to home and let the birds be.)
Choose Clean Air, 50 Winter Suggestions: http://www.cleanair.utah.gov/winter_steps.htm