Climate Change Archives


  • Coal Hollow Mine (RayBloxham)
    July 9th, 2015

    Some bad ideas just don’t go away. In 2011, with your help, we sent a clear message to the BLM to “just say no” to a proposed coal lease on the western doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park. So did the National Park Service. So did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You would think the BLM would get the message.

    Yet here we are, in the summer of 2015, and the BLM has just released a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) analyzing the potential coal lease at the behest of Alton Coal Development—a small, privately held, out-of-state company. The lease would expand the current Coal Hollow mine from private land onto adjacent public land.

    The impact of the mine expansion on the local environment would be significant. It would pollute the air, flood Bryce Canyon’s world-famous dark night skies with light, degrade the habitat and health of wildlife such as the imperiled sage grouse, lower water quality, and mar one of the most majestic landscapes in the world.

    Coal Hollow Mine (RayBloxham)

    Coal Hollow Mine at the doorstep of Bryce Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    The expanded Coal Hollow strip mine would also allow up to 300 coal trucks to barrel through the historic town of Panguitch each day, threatening shops, restaurants, motels and small businesses that depend on tourists, and putting residents at risk for respiratory health problems related to toxic coal dust.

    We need your help again to tell the BLM, in no uncertain terms, “just say no!”

    The BLM is holding five open houses in the coming weeks: July 14 (Cedar City), July 15 (Panguitch), July 16 (Salt Lake City), July 21 (Kanab) and July 22 (Alton). Please consider attending one of these meetings to learn more about this terrible proposal. Click here for specific locations and times.

    We’ll post another alert  soon on how you can take further action and submit detailed comments via our website (to submit comments now, visit the BLM comment page).

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  • June 2nd, 2015

    EPA Allowed by Court to Turn Back on Dangerous Smog Levels, Giving Fracking Industry Free Rein to Pollute

    For Immediate Release: June 2, 2015

    Washington, D.C. – A federal court ruling today denied clean air for Utah’s Uinta Basin, allowing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to sacrifice public health for the oil and gas industry.

    “Instead of requiring the EPA to adhere to its mission of protecting public health, the court has allowed the agency to evade their responsibility through essentially a trivial technicality,” said Dr. Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “The Uinta Basin already has documented abnormal spikes in infant deaths. While this ruling is a disappointment to us, it is a serious setback to protecting the thousands of Basin residents, including children and pregnant mothers, from some of the worst air pollution in the nation.”

    Utah’s Uinta Basin has for several years now been experiencing dangerously high levels of ground-level ozone, the key ingredient of smog. Ozone pollution in the Uinta Basin rivals that found in Los Angeles and Houston. Ozone levels well-above federal health standards have been recorded throughout the region.

    Studies have confirmed that oil and gas development is a key culprit for the region’s unhealthy air. More than 11,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the region. A recent study published in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology, reported that total ozone forming pollution from oil and gas operations in the region equals the amount released by 100 million passenger vehicles.

    “Out of control fracking is taking a terrible toll on clean air in Utah,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “Sadly, today’s court ruling lets the oil and gas industry continue to put its profits before public health.”

    In spite of monitoring data showing the Uinta Basin is violating federal health limits for ozone, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 declined to order a clean up. Instead, the agency declared that air quality in the region was “unclassifiable,” meaning that the Clean Air Act’s mandatory requirements for improving air quality would not apply in the Uinta Basin.

    In 2013, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, WildEarth Guardians, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed suit to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to declare the Uinta Basin’s air quality to be unhealthy and take steps to restore clean air. Represented by Earthjustice, the groups called on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s unclassifiable designation.

    In a ruling today, the court rejected the suit, upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision.

    “Today’s ruling is unfortunate news for the people living and working in the Uinta Basin who must continue to breathe unhealthy air,” said Robin Cooley, attorney for Earthjustice who argued the case. “The Environmental Protection Agency knows the air is unhealthy, and we will continue to hold their feet to the fire until they take the steps necessary to protect public health. Given the rampant oil and gas development in the Uinta Basin, there is no time to waste.”

    The court’s ruling comes even as monitoring continues to confirm the Uinta Basin’s sickening smog levels. In early 2014, public health and environmental groups again called on the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the region’s smog.

    ###

    For More Information Contact:

    Dr. Brian Moench, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, (801) 243-9089, drmoench@yahoo.com

    Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org

    David Garbett, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, (801) 428-3992, david@suwa.org

    Robin Cooley, Earthjustice, (303) 263-2472, rcooley@earthjustice.org

     

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  • December 4th, 2013

    dustsnow2memeOver at HCN’s The Goat Blog, Sarah Jane Keller reports on a new study that shows how helping desert soil could save Western Colorado’s snowpack:

    Southwest Colorado’s snowpack is the West’s hardest-hit when spring winds carrying tiny dust particles slam into the mountains. That cinnamon layer coating the snow means that it absorbs more of the sun’s radiation heats up, and melts faster than clean snow…. As water managers in the Colorado Basin plan for the region’s impending water crunch, and more dust is blowing around the West, they are starting to realize that dust is a hydrological game-changer.

    The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, in Silverton, Colo., began tracking dust on snow in the San Juan Mountains in 2003, but dust has been worse in recent years, including 2013. In a recent study looking at the combined impact of climate warming and dust on the Upper Colorado River Basin’s snowpack, researchers found that “extreme” dust years like 2009 and 2010 advance spring runoff timing by three weeks, compared to moderate dust years. That’s a total of six weeks earlier than runoff from clean snow.;

    The new study “adds more detail to what earlier research has shown,” Keller writes: “That at least in the short term, dust has a bigger impact on the speed of mountain snow melt than increasing temperatures do.

    For many years, SUWA has been pointing out the connection between protecting the wild lands of the Colorado Plateau with other critical issues like climate change and water allocation for the Colorado Basin.

    That’s why it’s so critical to protect places like Greater Canyonlands, where an explosion of off-road vehicle use and mining and drilling has helped to hasten the seasonal demise of Colorado’s snowpack and the resulting pressure on the Colorado River’s 40 million water users.

    Click here to learn more and to take action.

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  • January 4th, 2013

    From our friends at HEAL Utah:

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    12:30pm MST

    Salt Palace Convention Center
    100 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

    Please join us as we rally outside of Governor Herbert’s Energy Summit to demand that our elected officials invest in Utah’s bountiful supply of renewable energy. Inside the summit, lobbyists and state officials will be plotting how they can exploit dangerous resources like tar sands, oil shale and nuclear power — even though those will drain our precious water, destroy wildlife, spoil our fragile wilderness, pollute our air and contribute to the ongoing warming of our planet. Hundreds of Utahns will gather to protest the Governor’s 19th Century dirty energy policies, highlighting how Utah is falling behind other states and countries which are making solar, wind, and geothermal resources affordable and available right now. Bring your friends, family and neighbors to help send a message to our state leaders. Utahns deserve a clean energy future! Now! One voice! One message!

    RSVP and invite friends on Facebook by clicking here.

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