Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Coal losing steam in Nevada
The huge Ely Energy Center coal-fired power plant proposed for eastern Nevada has been delayed indefinitely due to environmental and economic uncertainties surrounding its development. A February 9 press release from Nevada Power reports that they will still build a 250-mile transmission line that was originally intended to carry electricity from the coal-fired plant in order to transport electricity from renewable sources – primarily solar, geothermal and wind. The coal-fired plant was opposed by groups such as the Sierra Club, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and Utah Moms for Clean Air since emissions would have inevitably drifted into Utah National Parks like Zion and Bryce Canyon. The cancellation of the Nevada plant is a hopeful sign for environmental activists opposing similar projects such as the Sevier Power Company project in Utah.
Sierra Club tracks Utah Legislature
The Utah Legislature, still in session through March 12, has been using the economic downturn as an excuse to attack the environment. So far they have considered a series of outrageous proposals including trying to balance Utah’s budget by allowing EnergySolutions to import foreign radioactive waste (a proposal strongly opposed by Utah’s second district congressman Jim Matheson); making it a felony to protest oil and gas leases as Tim deChristopher did (even though the Department of Interior and District Court agree that the sale deChristopher protested was misguided); withdrawing Utah from the Huntsmen-supported Western Climate Initiative; allowing billboards on the Legacy Parkway; and endorsing a resolution to support building a nuclear power plant in Utah. The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club tracks the status of environmental legislation and reports their findings on their website.
Utah Sierra Club 2009 Utah Legislature Bill Tracker: utah.sierraclub.org/legislative.asp
Salazar cancels controversial lease sale
Ken Salazar, President Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior, has cancelled the 77 oil and gas leases on BLM lands that were sold during a controversial auction on December 19. A February 4 press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior reports Salazar’s remarks: “In its last weeks in office, the Bush Administration rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases at the doorstep of some of our nation’s most treasured landscapes in Utah. We need to responsibly develop our oil and gas supplies to help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but we must do so in a thoughtful and balanced way that allows us to protect our signature landscapes and cultural resources in places like Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon, for future generations.”
DOI press release: www.doi.gov/news/09_News_Releases/020409b.html
Matrimony Spring contaminated
Matrimony spring is officially closed. Countless outdoor recreationists have filled water jugs at the fresh-water spring located across from Lion’s Park just north of Moab, but after county water quality officials found unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria, the water was declared unsafe to drink and the pipe welded shut. The Moab Times-Independent newspaper reports that the closing of the spring has triggered an intense emotional sense of loss among those who used to drink the water.
Gov. Huntsman promotes hypermiling
Can’t afford a new Prius? You can reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption with the car you already have by hypermiling-using driving habits and car maintenance strategies that help you get the best possible fuel efficiency. On February 10, Governor Huntsman signed on to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers EcoDriving campaign to promote hypermiling techniques in Utah. Follow these simple strategies: Avoid rapid starts and stops, maintain a constant speed, keep your speed under 60 mph, keep your tires properly inflated, and take off your sports rack when it’s not in use. The AAM estimates you can reduce your gasoline consumption by about 15%.
Utah citizens support recycling
Utah should improve recycling options by increasing recycling access with curbside or convenient drop-off locations, improving availability of glass and electronic collection programs, and providing additional recycling information to residents, according to a 2008 Dan Jones poll sponsored by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. 86% of survey respondents thought their community ought to have a recycling program, and 94% said their attitude towards recycling is more positive than it was five years ago.
Recycling Survey of Utah Residents: www.hazardouswaste.utah.gov/recycling_survey_2008.pdf