Environmental Politics, Think
Environews: June 2013
Shared Solutions better than Legacy Highway expansion; EPA sued over Utah’s dirty air; Introducting the Wasatch Summit; Mark your calendar for a camping trip to PR Springs; Tar Sands comments due June 13, Sierra Club grades Utah Legislators.
—by Amy Brunvand
Shared Solutions better than Legacy Highway expansion
In February a hardy group of protesters braved a snowstorm to rally against the proposed West Davis Freeway, a four-lane, high speed freeway complete with billboards, right through the heart of the remaining open lands bordering Farmington Bay and the Great Salt Lake. Nonetheless, on May 16 The Utah Department of Transportation released a draft environmental impact statement identifying the controversial route as the “preferred alternative.”
Tim Wagner at the Utah Sierra Club says there is a better plan—don’t build any new freeways at all. He says “UDOT’s own modeling data that shows the freeway being “underutilized” at 20-40% of capacity during peak rush hour in 2040, the agency still claims the $600 million road is necessary to improving “mobility” for West Davis residents, many of who are increasingly opposed to the project.” A better alternative to a new freeway is a proposal put forth by West Davis citizen groups, Utahns for Better Transportation, the Sierra Club and others. Simply called the “Shared Solution,” the concept would improve existing east to west arterial roads in West Davis County, create boulevard communities to attract local businesses by converting some roads to boulevards, enhance flow at intersections with things like round-abouts, and increase mass transit and bike lanes, all within the concept building local communities, reducing vehicle miles traveled and reducing air pollution.
EPA sued over Utah’s dirty air
Even as UDOT proposes to build the new West Davis Corridor freeway (thereby increasing vehicle miles traveled, CO2 emissions, sprawl and air pollution along the Wasatch Front) WildEarth Guardians has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to hold Utah to the standards of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit claims that public health is endangered by non-attainment of federal health standards in, Salt Lake, Davis, Box Elder, Tooele, Weber and Cache counties as well as a portion of Franklin County, Idaho. The lawsuit has implications for other states that have similarly failed to meet deadlines to clean up fine particle pollution.
Introducing the Wasatch Summit
“Wasatch Summit” is the new name given to the committee of stakeholders who are trying to hash out a framework for managing transportation, environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the Central Wasatch Mountains. The committee was formed to follow up on the “Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow” visioning process which has “documented overwhelming support for an increase in public transportation service and amenities for access to and within the Tri-Canyon area of the Central Wasatch (Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyons), while at the same time documenting significant public concern regarding increased development and use of the Central Wasatch.” The Wasatch Summit website includes a roster of committee members and organizations involved in planning. Why not contact them with your concerns?
Mark your calendar for a camping trip to PR Springs—June 22-23.
PR Springs is the location of the first tar sands mining operation in the United States, ramping up this summer. This camping trip will be family focused and family friendly.
Tar Sands comments due by June 13
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah is seeking public comment on an Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the potential environmental impacts of leasing one, 2,116-acre tar sand parcel in eastern Utah’s Asphalt Ridge area near Vernal.
Sierra Club grades Utah Legislators
The Utah Sierra Club has released its annual legislative scorecard tracking the environmental voting records of the Utah Legislature. The scorecard tracks votes on key environmental legislation. A score of 100% means the legislator voted pro-environment on all key bills.
Best (100%) Jim Dabakis (D-2) and Luz Robles (D-1) (100%)
Worst (43%) Wayne Harper (R-6), Howard Stephenson (R-11), Daniel Thatcher (R-12) (43%)
Best (100%) Patrice Arent (D-36), Joel Briscoe (D-25), Rebecca Chaves-Houck (D-24), Tim Cosgrove (D-44), Lynn Hemingway (D-40), Carol Spackman Moss (D-37), Marie Poulson (D-46), Angela Romero (D-26), Mark Wheatley (D-35)
Worst ( < 38%) Marc Roberts (R-67)(25%), Kay Christofferson (R-56) , Mike Kennedy (R-27), John Knotwell (R-52)(38%)