Environews: September 2008

By Amy Brunvand

Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Less parking = walkable neighborhoods

The Salt Lake City Council did their part for walkable neighborhoods by voting unanimously to pass an ordinance that allows small businesses to offer fewer parking spaces per square foot of business space. The ordinance also encourages pedestrian-friendly development by granting reduced parking requirements to businesses that offer bike racks, baby buggy parking, benches and other pedestrian-oriented amenities. Betsy Burton, owner of the King’s English Bookstore and chair of Local First Utah, wrote a letter of support for the ordinance saying, "Such progressive legislation as this proposal promises to be will have huge positive economic impact on Salt Lake City-impact that will help the city provide the services necessary to all of us."
Salt Lake City Council http://www.slcgov.com/council/default.htm

Questar offers home energy audits

Would you like to find out how to reduce your natural gas usage? For $25, a Questar Gas technician will visit your home, conduct an energy audit, and provide you with a detailed report on how to make your home more energy efficient. You can also print out a form and send it in for a free do-it-yourself audit. This program is available in Utah and Idaho only.
Thermwise Energy Audit: tel. 800-695-7375; www.thermwise.com/home/Audit.html

Hatch, Bishop push for oil shale development

On August 20, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Rob Bishop (UT-1) made an appearance at the Utah Legislature’s Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee in order to press state legislators to help fast-track oil shale development by removing federal environmental protections. In his statement, Hatch derided "anti-oil" federal policies, meaning policies that would help wean the U.S. off fossil fuels toward renewable energy and conservation. In contrast to Utah’s enthusiasm to start an oil-shale boom, Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. of Colorado and Governor Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming (the two other states that would be impacted by oil shale development) both support the current federal moratorium on oil-shale leases and advocate a prudent go-slow approach in order to better evaluate potential environmental and social impacts of an oil-shale boom.
Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee: www.le.utah.gov/

If you contact your senator or representative to advocate for sensible energy policies, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance would like to know how it goes. Please e-mail jackie@suwa.org about your experience.

Utah Solar Tour

What do KRCL Radio (FM 90.9), East High School, Clark Planetari_um and Hawkwatch International have in common? They all use solar panels to generate clean, renewable energy. If you’d like to see the potential of solar power in action, the 2008 Utah Solar Tour sponsored by the Utah Solar Energy Association is a chance to see real-life solar and renewable energy applications in homes and businesses throughout Utah. The self-guided tour takes place on September 13. Choose from the 30 tour sites available, and visit the sites to ask questions and see presentations on the latest trends in energy efficiency. As the Utah Solar Energy Association says, "Like the sun, the tour is free."
Utah Solar Tour, September 13: http://www.utsolar.org/

UDOT plans bicycle improvements

The Utah Department of Trans_portation is seeking input from citizens and local government groups about their priorities for new and upgraded bicycle routes. Public meetings will be held in locations throughout Utah from mid-September to late October 2008. As of this writing , the schedule wasn’t posted yet, but it should be on the Web by now.
Schedule of public meetings: www.udot.utah.gov/

"World Without Us" author to speak

What would happen to the Earth if humans suddenly vanished? How long would human impacts persist in geologic "deep time"? Alan Weisman, an award-winning journalist, used scientific predictions to write his book "The World Without Us", which Bill McKibban describes as, "One of the grandest thought experiments of our time."

Alan Weisman. Tuesday, September 30, 2008. 7 pm. Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah. Tickets $10. 801-581-7100, www.kingsburyhall.org.

Book discussion sponsored by the Utah Museum of Natural History. September 8, 6:30p at the Tracy Aviary. Tel. 801-541-3122. Online discussion at www.umnh.utah.edu/talk

This article was originally published on September 1, 2008.