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Alan Matheson to Lead Utah Environmental Agency

Governor Gary Herbert’s top environment advisor is taking on a challenging new role, leading the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

“The mission of the Department of Environmental Quality,” says the governor, “really is, and I’ll quote, ‘to protect human health and quality of life by protecting and enhancing the environment’.”

Herbert said Alan Matheson is the best person to lead that effort once Amanda Smith steps down later this month to join the private sector.

Matheson’s tackled environmental issues from all sides. A lawyer, he’s worked for a regulated power company and led the growth-planning think tank, Envision Utah. He’s worked for the conservation group, Trout Unlimited, and he’s led the Herbert administration’s negotiations on clean-car clean-fuel standards.

“I recognize very clearly that clean air, clean water, healthy landscapes are foundational to so many of the things that we want to do and are doing in this state,” Matheson said at a news conference announcing his appointment.

Environmental activists call Matheson a good listener and praise him for welcoming diverse input.

“His heart is in the right place,” says Cherise Udell, co-founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air. “He comes from an environmental background.”

“We respect his knowledge of environmental issues, and we look forward to being able to work with him,” says Brian Moench, founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Matheson starts his new job once the Utah Senate confirms his appointment, probably next month.

The DEQ has around 380 employees and a budget of $57 million dollars.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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