Energy & Environment | KUER 90.1

Energy & Environment

Photo of radioactive waste barrell.
iStock.com / WellPhoto

A state Senate committee advanced legislation Thursday that would eliminate a policy obstacle that prevents EnergySolutions from accepting large volumes of depleted uranium at its Tooele County radioactive waste landfill.

A new study includes an interactive map that shows how your home will be affected by climate change in the next 50 years. No surprise —Idaho and the Mountain West will get hotter.

 


Each winter, anxious water managers, farmers and city leaders in the American Southwest turn their eyes toward the snowy peaks of the southern Rocky Mountains.

The piling snow is a massive frozen reservoir, and its depth and weight can foreshadow the year ahead. Millions of dollars are spent divining what a heavy or light snowpack means for the region's reservoirs, for its booming cities, for its arid farmland.

Photo of Lake Powell.
Linde Cater / National Park Service

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation put the seven states in the Colorado River Basin on notice Friday that they have just one more chance to finish drought contingency plans for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Photo of Virgin River in St. George, Utah
Judy Fahys / KUER

The seven states in the Colorado River Basin face a deadline this week to submit water shortage plans to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Utah’s Division of Water Resources has already teamed up with other Upper Basin States — Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming — on contingency plans, but the federal government wants to be sure that the entire basin has a workable solution in the event of a severe water shortage declaration that could come as soon as next year.

Steven Rinella is star of the Netflix series "MeatEater."
MeatEater, Inc.

 

 

Under the Trump administration, hunters and anglers have become a loud voice in the battle over how we use federal public lands. This includes Steven Rinella, who is fast becoming a big name among sportsmen and women.

Rick Egan, Salt Lake Tribune

Yellowstone National Park may lose many of its forests by mid-century due to severe wildfires and climate change, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Monographs.  

U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo. argues that putting states in charge of managing resources will remove excess red tape and make it easier for companies to drill responsibly on federal lands.
zhengzaishuru / istockphoto.com

A group of Western lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would give states control of oil and gas projects on federal lands.

Photo of U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva
Judy Fahys / KUER News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The new chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee said he expects Congress to investigate the Trump administration’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in southern Utah.

Photo of closed road at Arches National Park.
Judy Fahys/KUER News

The U.S. Interior Department announced Sunday it will take the extraordinary step of using entrance fees for daily operations during the partial government shutdown.

Photo of wildland firefighters.
Courtesy: Dollar Ridge Fire

Utah experienced its driest year on record in 2018, leaving forests and range that had little soil moisture to begin with even more vulnerable to igniting in what turned out to be an extraordinary — and costly — fire season.

Photo of snowy mountain scene
Casey Sutcliffe/USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Sporadic storms since Thanksgiving have resulted in precipitation levels throughout Utah that are, in general, above normal for the beginning of the year. It’s a welcome trend following the state’s driest year on record.

LAS VEGAS -- Water leaders throughout the West now have a hard deadline to finish deals that would keep the Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs from dropping to deadpool levels.

The nation’s top water official is giving leaders of the seven states that rely on the Colorado River until January 31, 2019 to finalize a Drought Contingency Plan. The combination of multi-state agreements would change how reservoirs are operated and force earlier water cutbacks within the river’s lower basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada as reservoirs drop.

Renee Bright / KUER

Sen. Orrin Hatch will retire next month, winding down a political career spanning four decades ... longer than any elected official in Utah's history. The 84-year-old will likely be remembered for his role in bruising Supreme Court nomination battles, passing the Children's Health Insurance Program and funneling millions of dollars back to Utah.

But this week, KUER is remembering lesser known parts of Hatch's legacy. 

 

Few, if any, would call Orrin Hatch an environmentalist.

Landscape photo of mining
Flickr/Wild Earth Guardians

A bankrupt coal producer in the Mountain West wants to give $1.5 million worth of bonuses to top managers while potentially cutting retirement benefits for mine workers, according to recent federal court filings.

You may have missed it, but on Black Friday the federal government released a second climate-related report. The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) found nearly one-quarter of carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil fuels extracted on public lands - that's the average from 2005 to 2014. Not to mention over 7 percent of methane and 1.5 percent of nitrous oxide, on average during that same time period.

Photo of burnt trees.
Pole Creek Fire

The Trump administration released the fourth and latest version of the National Climate Assessment on Friday. The congressionally mandated quadrennial report zeroes in on hazards nationally and region-by-region. For the Southwest, the assessment predicts more extreme wildfires and less reliable water supplies.

Early season snowfall in some parts of the Colorado River Basin have raised hopes of a drought recovery. But that optimism is likely premature.

In Colorado, higher than average snowfall in October and early November has allowed ski resorts to open early after a dismal start to last year’s season.

Photo of skin track.
Annie Putman

As skiers and snowboarders gear up for the season and what looks to be a snowy Thanksgiving weekend, snow safety forecasters are hoping this will be the third season in a row without avalanche-caused deaths in the backcountry.

Photo of smog.
Judy Fahys / KUER

In one small sign that the state’s air-quality cleanup plan is working, the Cache Valley has attained national clean-air standards for winter smog for three years in a row.

Photo of truck in Utah.
iStock.com / bluebeat76

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled plans Tuesday to develop next-generation regulations to reduce a key pollutant from heavy-duty diesel trucks, but officials offered no details on what those changes will entail.

Oil and gas producing states around the country are closely watching Colorado this election season. Voters are deciding on a ballot measure dramatically increasing the so-called “set-back” distance drilling rigs need to be from homes.


Water managers along the Colorado River are trying to figure out how to live with less.

Climate change is growing the gap between the river’s supply, and the demands in the communities that rely on it, including seven western U.S. states and Mexico. The federal government recently released proposals called Drought Contingency Plans designed to keep the Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs from falling to levels where water is unable to be sent through the dams that hold up Lakes Powell and Mead.

Photo of firefighter cutting burned tree.
Inciweb / Brian Head Fire

Cedar City — State officials held the last of five open houses Tuesday on their proposal to seek looser federal restrictions in roadless areas.

Photo of protestors outside of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.
Judy Fahys / KUER

Three dozen Utahns joined activists nationwide in rallying behind a landmark climate lawsuit even though the U.S. Supreme Court has put the case on hold.

Photo of Yucca Mountain.
U.S. Energy Department via Wikimedia Commons

A Utah state senator wants his fellow lawmakers to go on record opposing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in neighboring Nevada.

In the Mountain West, we love our rivers, our mountains, our forests, deserts and wildlife. They’re part of our economies, our lifestyles and our identity. But that very connection makes us vulnerable to a growing mental health problem -- climate anxiety.

Picture of two people enjoying a vista.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Thursday that Congress will not pass his bill this year on managing public land in the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Photo of low reservoir.
iStock.com / tupungato

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state-wide drought emergency this week. It’s one of two states in our region that were especially hard-hit this year.

 

Calling it a matter of national security, the Trump administration wants to export coal to Asia through military bases along the West Coast. Companies are currently blocked from using ports in California and Washington State.

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