General news from Utah

Nearly One Million Acres of Wilderness-Quality BLM Land Considered for Energy Development

A hotly-contested debate is raging over how best to manage a 973,000 acre chunk of BLM land in central Utah. As part of a 2.5 million acre management plan, the land in question could see hundreds of new gas wells under the latest BLM management alternative. Among locals and conservation groups, the issue is whether to pursue an energy-based economy that may offer little in securing the nation's energy future, or to invest in a recreation-based economy.

More Cars, More Burned Coal Equal Unhealthy Utah County Air

Utah County, Utah, has not experienced a violation of air quality standards since 1993 but is likely to change according to two environmental groups, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, and Utah Moms for Clean Air. With its rapid growth Utah County is expecting a doubling of traffic in two years and it is already downwind of five coal-fired power plants and may see another nine built in the future. As well, EPA's newest air quality standards are set to measure fine particulate matter which the county will struggle to meet.

Nation's Nuclear Waste Seeks Home and Some Eye Utah Facility

A conference of regulators and contractors in the business of locating sites for nuclear waste disposal made it clear that the nation's nuclear waste will soon have nowhere to go. EnergySolutions, the largest nuclear waste company, operates a Class A waste facility in Tooele, about 80 miles west of its headquarters in Salt Lake City and is considering taking the low level waste. The Utah legislature several years ago prohibited EnergySolutions from taking the more dangerous Class B and C waste. Four plans for the waste are currently on the table.

Utah ranchers, farmers work to protect prairie dog

Farmers and ranchers in southern Utah are working to keep prairies dogs off the endangered species list because to prevent government regulation from being imposed on their land. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is also offering benefits such as help with fencing and weed eradication to farmers who allocate a certain portion of their land to restoration.

Utah Mine Disaster Hearing Short on Answers

The head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Robert Strickler, declined Wednesday to stand behind the mining plan - previously approved by his agency - at the Utah mine where nine workers were killed in cave-ins. Strickler also avoided yes or no answers before a Senate subcommittee investigating the mine collapse. Many believe the MSHA mining plan was flawed and led to the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Utah Coal Plant Gets Pollution Green Light From EPA

A new unit built on to the Bonanza electric plant was approved by the EPA with no restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions--the main contributor to global warming. EPA handled the permit application rather than the state agency because the plant sits on tribal land; however, EPA officials state they would not regulate a global pollutant in what is basically a local pollution permit. The permit comes on the heels of Utah and five other western states committing to cut greenhouse gases by 15% by 2020.

Solar to Squeeze Out Coal as Salt Lake City Power Source

The Solar Salt Lake Project was launched Thursday and is expected to equal power produced by coal by the year 2015. Salt Lake was one of 13 cities across the nation to receive funding as part of the Solar American Cities program. Local officials and the Salt Lake mayor are hopeful that this endeavor will lead to more business and residential incorporation of solar energy.

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