1. Court restores ‘roadless rule’ in national forests—Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times, 8/6/09
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found on Wednesday that the Bush administration neglected environmental laws when it effectively repealed a 2001 rule that barred road building and timber cutting in almost a third of the nation’s forests. The ‘roadless rule’ issued during the last month of the Clinton administration is considered one of the administration’s most controversial conservation moves, sparking lawsuits, contradictory court rulings and administrative maneuvers. Other cases are currently pending in US courts, and the Obama administration could devise its own policy.
Environmentalists are calling the ruling an important victory that will help keep some of the most pristine national forest lands from energy development and logging. Earthjustice represented 20 environmental groups in the case. The decision was issued by a conservative panel of 3 judges all appointed by Republican presidents, though the 9th Circuit has a reputation for liberal interpretation. Their ruling stated that the Bush administration regulation that gave states substantial control over federal roadless areas took “substantive environmental protections off the books” without first undertaking environmental reviews.
A spokesman for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, an off-road vehicle group, said continuing litigation was likely for some time, and other cases are currently making their way through the courts. While the original Clinton-era rule applied to around 58.5 million acres, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska was later removed from the ban. Utilizing a longstanding federal petition process separate from the Bush rule, Idaho last year adopted its own standards for 9.3 million acres of roadless forest within the state. Environmental groups are challenging the Idaho standards, arguing more than half the acreage could be opened to logging for the alleged purposes of thinning to reduce risk from wildfire. Colorado also is seeking to adopt its own roadless rule.
2. Obama admin teams with grassroots groups to ‘Green the Block’—Kate Sheppard, Grist.org 8/5/09
The partnership between the White House and grassroots organizations Hip Hop Caucus and Green For All is expected to boost benefits of green jobs programs for low-income communities and minority youth. The Green the Block Initiative was announced Tuesday, and will officially begin with a day of service on September 11, 2009 as part of the administration’s United We Serve program.
The president of the Hip Hop Caucus said “Future generations will measure us by our success in transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy, and in the process building opportunity and prosperity for our most economically disenfranchised communities.” The reverend added “We have to convince our generation that this truly is our lunch-counter moment of the 21st century,” referring to the sit-ins at segregated diners during the Civil Rights era.
Local initiatives will take place around the country. The CEO of Oakland-based Green For All said “September 11 is about bringing people together to recognize that change happens not in the corridors of Washington, DC, but it happens in the cities of Detroit, Cleveland, San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond and cities across the country.
Obama administration investments to assist low-income Americans through greening efforts include $14 billion for housing upgrades, including $5 billion to make low-income housing more energy efficient. Currently the government spends $5 billion a year in monetary assistance for energy bills in low-income neighborhoods. Additionally the climate and energy bill moving through the Senate includes provisions that would help ensure jobs will be created in low-income and minority communities, including local hiring requirements and dedicating a portion of pollution permit revenues to job training programs.
Green For All’s CEO warned, however that minority communities potentially benefitting from the climate bill needed to remain active as the bill moves through the senate. “If communities of color aren’t engaged, you won’t see provisions like that.”
Green the Block http://www.greentheblock.net/
3. Stimulus funds jolt car-charging-station plans—Emily Heffter, The Seattle Times 8/6/09
As part of a $100 million Department of Energy grant, Seattle will get millions to provide infrastructure to streets and homes with charging stations for electric cars expected to become available for sale at local dealerships next October. The funds will pay for 2,550 charging stations across the Seattle metropolitan area. Ecotality, the parent company of electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), will establish the stations.
Nissan North America announced earlier this year that Seattle would be one of its first markets for an all electric car called the Leaf, which will get 100 miles to the charge. One of the stimulus package fund stipulations is that purchasers of a Nissan Leaf will receive a 220-volt charging station in their home at no cost. Also, eTech will be providing a station network throughout the area for any electric vehicle. That includes vehicles provided by Zipcar, a local car-sharing service.
Home charges are expected to take 4-6 hours, while fifty of the public stations will charge in 15 minutes. Expansion of electric vehicles was part of the campaign platform for Seattle’s mayor Greg Nickels. His re-election agenda includes building 1,000 car-charging stations across the city and region over the next 4 years, removing 3,000 conventional vehicles from service.
Other cities receiving similar Department of Energy grants under the $100 million umbrella are Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Eugene, Corvales, Salem, and Portland Ore.
4. Glacier melt accelerating, federal report concludes—Jim Tankersley, Los Angeles Times 8/6/09
A 50 year study of glaciers in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest shows that glacier melt has been rapid and accelerating due to global warming. The study includes the longest records of glacial melt in North America. Undertaken by the US Geological Survey, three benchmark glaciers were researched: Wolverine and Gulkana in Alaska and South Cascade Glacier in Washington. Their varying climates and elevations are considered representative of thousands of other glaciers across the continent.
Gulkana and Wolverine have lost around 15% of their mass since the mid-1950’s. South Cascade Glacier has lost almost a quarter of its mass. A direct link has been made to global warming. Data tools included measurement stakes, photographic surveys, tallies of winter snow accumulation and summer melt. Acceleration has been prominent over the last 20 years. As the glaciers shrink, runoff declines and drier conditions follow, especially at end of summer, for natural and human communities below.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said “it is exactly the kind of science we need to invest in to measure and mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change.”
View the full report: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3046/
5. Pikas doing well in Glacier—Chris Peterson, Hungry Horse News 8/5/09
ESR Editor’s Note: In its ‘About’ page, Hungry Horse News says it’s Montana’s largest weekly newspaper.
The American pika, a relative of the rabbit that survives without hibernation, has been found to be thriving in Glacier National Park by a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher. At least 1,500 animals and perhaps as many as 4,000 currently inhabit the park. Elsewhere in the nation, pikas have gone extinct, including some native Great Basin populations.
Scientists attribute their disappearance to climate change: too much heat and cold. Pikas have a body temperature around 104 degrees. They do best in climates under 80 degrees and where deep snows provide insulation from freezing to death. Some trapped pikas where temps were at 78 degrees for more than a half hour died.
Pikas construct haypiles, large mats of vegetation under the broken talus rock of Glacier, which they feed on over winter. Pikas also feed on their feces and the feces of other animals, especially hoary marmots. They tend to be solitary animals, and while two litters are possible, the second tends to have a low survival rate. Their mortality rate averages 37-47%. They are susceptible to predation and if pushed out of its habitat may have a long way to migrate to another talus slope.
The potato-sized animals are considered an important climate change bellwether across the nation, because of their sensitivity to slightly increased temperatures and diminished snowfall. The new research establishes baseline data for monitoring populations in the park, previously unknown parkwide. While many were found in south facing talus slopes, larger densities were found on north faces. Elevations were most dense between 7,000 and 7,500 feet. They tended to be most active early and late in the day, due to their temperature sensitivity.
6. It’s Official: Breckenridge to Vote to Legalize Marijuana—Press Release, Sean McAllister and Josh Kappel, SensibleColorado.org 7/24/09
ESR Editor’s note: SensibleColorado.org says in its ‘About’ page that it was founded by Colorado professionals and parents to research, educate and advocate for effective drug policy.
The Breckenridge Town Clerk certified that a petition submitted by local reform group “Sensible Breckenridge” had enough valid signatures to place a new drug law measure on the November 2009 ballot. While only 500 registered voter signatures were needed, more than 1400 were collected.
If the measure is passed, local penalties for private possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by adults 21 and older would be eliminated, legalizing small amounts of marijuana for adults under the Town Code. By law, the Breckenridge Town Council can enact the law at their August 11 meeting. Otherwise, the measure will be placed on the November 3rd ballot.
Local attorney and chair of Sensible Breckenridge said they found overwhelming support for sensible marijuana reform, and the measure will allow Breckenridge voters to decide whether “responsible adults should be criminalized for using a substance less harmful than alcohol.”
7. Utah-based Harmons celebrates 77 years of buying local—Dawn House, SLT 8/5/09
The West Valley City-based grocery chain purchased goods and services from over 700 Utah manufacturers, service providers, food distributors and farmers last year, funneling $256 million into the state’s economy, vice president Bob Harmon said. Harmon’s is the state’s 16th largest privately-owned company headquartered in Utah, employing 2,230 people.
“We want to support local producers and suppliers because we’re a local company too,” CEO and President Dean Peterson said. “It’s something we’ve been doing for four generations.” The market got its start in 1932 when Jake and Irene Harmon opened the Market Spot fruit stand on Main Street in South Salt Lake. Local eggs and milk soon followed, and the market moved to Granger—now a part of West Valley City—at the end of World War II.
Harmons makes a point of identifying local products with the Utah’s Own label. A Utah Department of Agriculture and Food spokesman said every dollar spent on a Utah product adds $4-$6 to the state economy, preserves the watershed and local farmlands. A recently released 2007 agricultural census report showed Utah lost 635,500 acres of farmland since 2002. Over the past 40 years, Utah additionally has lost more farm and grazing lands than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
8. Utah’s 4-day workweek cuts energy use 13 percent—Brock Vergakis, AP, SLT 8/5/09
The 4-day workweek begun last August has had 17,000 of the state’s 24,000 executive branch employees working 10 hours four days per week and taking Fridays off. Cities and states across the country are following the policy closely, and using it as a model for energy efficiency and cost cutting. While $203,000 in reduced custodial contracts were identified, other savings were not pinpointed, and the report released this week covers only the first 9 months of the program. Final savings estimates are due out in October, incorporating utility rate and weather fluctuations.
Governor Jon Huntsman’s target had been a $3 billion savings from an over $10 billion budget, but due to a number of factors, including falling oil and electricity prices, the fact that 200 of the state’s 900 buildings already enjoyed closure on Fridays, and the lag time for booting up efficiency in the new program, experts doubted that number could be reached. Incoming governor Gary Herbert will decide whether to extend the program sometime after the October report is issued.
The state energy manager has said that if the program is permanently instituted, savings could grow, since long-term leases could be negotiated, including ones that have utility costs incorporated into rental agreements, and equipment could be installed to better isolate and control heating and cooling on nights and weekends. He expects utility rates to rise, especially if a cap and trade program on carbon emissions is instituted.
A majority of workers surveyed prefer the new schedule, and absenteeism and overtime are down. Customer complaints too have dropped, and wait times at Department of Motor Vehicles have decreased due to the extended Monday-Thursday hours. Employees are estimated to save collectively $5-$6 million annually from commuting one less day, and greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be cut by 12,000 metric tons.
Employees favoring the program have instituted a voluntary peer pressure network to ensure the program is continued. Volunteer team captains remind co-workers to turn off lights, shut down computers and unplug electronics with phantom power when not in use.
9. EnergySolutions’ Utah site due trainloads of depleted uranium—Judy Fahys, SLT 8/5/09
Though state regulators are considering a ban on import and storage of depleted uranium in Utah, the US Department of Energy is planning to ship 14,800 barrels of depleted uranium from the Savanna River cleanup site in South Carolina over the next 13 months. The shipments will be paid for by part of a $1.6 billion stimulus money package awarded to the Carolina cleanup site. Depleted uranium becomes more hazardous over time.
The mile square EnergySolutions site 80 miles west of Salt Lake City already contains 49,000 tons of depleted uranium from cleanups nationwide. While a moratorium has been sought and continuing efforts are underway, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) affirmed last spring that depleted uranium fell into permissible waste for Utah. One caveat is that large amounts of the waste in shallow burial sites such as the Tooele landfill could become unsafe without additional precautions, though the NRC’s review is expected to take years.
According to the NRC, depleted uranium increases in hazard to its peak in about a million years. EnergySolutions has assured regulators that waste at the site won’t exceed state threshold limits for 35,000 years. The federal government currently stockpiles around 700,000 tons of depleted uranium, with another 700,000 on the way from new enrichment facilities.
The company voluntarily requested last month that the state Division of Radiation Control amend its license so that the company is required to use extra-thick covers on future shipments of the waste. Salt Lake City-based Cavanagh Services Group received the $3.4 million contract to haul the waste to the Tooele landfill just days after EnergySolutions assured the state radiation board that no new shipments of the waste were expected anytime soon and the board tabled its moratorium vote pending NRC meetings in September.
Activist groups such as HealUtah, some past and present radiation board members and Rep. Jim Matheson D-UT all are pushing the board to invoke a moratorium on depleted uranium.
10. DEQ: Explosive factory site could be clean enough to live on—Donald W. Myers, SLT 8/5/09
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has said the former Ensign-Bickford site, an explosives plant that operated for 46 years outside of Mapleton, Utah, is safe to build on after contaminated soils are entombed. The site contaminated a city well with a plastic explosives chemical previously. Mapleton’s mayor is skeptical, but will not prevent a developer from proceeding if the DEQ OKs the site. The developer is seeking to have the site incorporated into Mapleton’s city limits.
The DEQ’s hazardous waste facility’s manager said Ensign-Bickford took steps to decontaminate the property, including baking 90,000 tons of contaminated soil in a kiln to clean it, and shipping 200,000 tons of soil to a landfill outside of Price. Soils with low pollutant concentrations still remain, and these would receive a 2-foot soil cap. An environmental covenant will prevent development on that part of the site. Other restrictions could apply for other parts of the site as well.
One citizen pushed at the public hearing sponsored by the DEQ for a study of cancer cases in the city due to previous contamination, rather than relying on the state’s verdict that the property is safe. Years ago, when pushing for the state to test the city’s water wells, the state replied there was no way contamination could reach the wells. The Mapleton citizen believes the RDX, an explosive, contamination has been responsible for four deaths in his neighborhood.
11. Zoo pelican swallows cell phone—AP, SLT 8/5/09
The Tautphaus Park Zoo pelican in Idaho Falls, Idaho regurgitated the phone shortly afterward.
12. Brazil forest group: Go green—go in the shower—AP, SLT 8/5/09
Brazilian environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica favors the campaign to reduce flushes and save the Atlantic rainforest. Cartoon drawings of ie a trapeze artist, a basketball player, and an alien are shown urinating in the shower, and the commercial is narrated by children’s voices that end with “Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic rainforest!” SOS Mata Atlantica says saving a flush a day could save a household 1,157 gallons of water annually.
13. Anxious anticipation as elephant’s pregnancy nears an end—Matthew D. LaPlante, SLT 8/5/09
First attempts to inseminate the 22-year old elephant occurred over three years ago, and birth is days away. Calf mortality is high in spite of veterinary advances, and no African elephant has ever been born in Utah. Few zoos undertake the years-long process. One Asian elephant birth occurred in 1918 at the Hogle’s previous Liberty Park location, but the calf died in the first year.
Recently a mother elephant accidentally killed her day-old calf at the Memphis Zoo. San Diego Zoo veterinarians euthanized a 2-month-old calf infected with antibiotic-resistant staph last year. Stillborn calves are not uncommon. Several of the hundreds of captive cows in US zoos have been found to carry mummified fetal remains in their wombs for years. Misha, a Hogle cow that died in 2008, delivered a stillborn fetus at Six Flags Marine World in California a couple years before she was moved to Utah.
Elephant fetuses experience a complex passage from womb to birth. The fetus sits low in the womb and is pushed up and over the mother elephant’s pelvis at birth. Beyond, the calf descends a long urogenital canal to emerge. Calves can weigh between 180-350 pounds, and can get stuck in a number of places along the passage. C-sections have always resulted in death of the mother.
After confirming the pachyderm was pregnant late in 2008, her keepers initiated a daily regimen of strengthening and stretching exercises that will ensure the calf of the 7,700 pound mother will not over-grow, and to prepare her muscles for the birth. The elephant yard has been checked to ensure that there are no places where the calf could become endangered or accidentally killed.
Review of past delivery experiences elsewhere has been part preparation for zookeepers. While the elephant’s hind legs will be harnessed for safety, keepers are preparing for an intervention-less birth. They also are planning on minimal calf handling after the birth, lowering non-elephant smells that could interfere with mother-child bonding.
14. Healthy plate: Cans can compete nutritionally—Jim Romanoff, AP, SLT 8/4/09
While canned foods have typically held a poor reputation for nutrition, with fruits canned in sugary syrups and vegetables overcooked and canned in brine solutions, canning technology advances are allowing water and juice as well as low-sugar and -salt solutions.
Some fruits and vegetables are known to improve nutritionally with canning. Apricots provide vitamin A and canning makes it easier to absorb the nutrient. Tomatoes harbor nutrients during processing and are better than raw tomatoes for the antioxidant lycopene. Fresh produce has been known to lose nutrients due to improper shipping and storage temperatures.
Produce headed for canning typically is harvested at peak flavor and nutrition. Heating can degrade some nutrients, but packaging stabilizes nutrient loss afterward. Canned fish and meats now have low-salt and -fat versions and compare nutritionally at times with fresh.
15. Dining out: For starters, Pago’s got the goods—Lesli J. Neilson, SLT 8/4/09
Pago, in Salt Lake City’s 9th and 9th neighborhood, touts itself as a “farm-to-table” restaurant featuring artisanship, local fare, and farm freshness. Pago means “single vineyard” in Spanish. Bell Organic, East Farms and Sandhill Farms all are supported through the restaurant’s participation in a Restaurant Supported Agriculture (RSA) program. Spring and summer symbiotic relationships between restaurants and farms boom, but may become taxed in typical non-producing months like November. Menus reflect the seasons, including a “succotash” of rotating RSA vegetables.
16. Canning: Present and future sealed—Kathy Stephenson, SLT 8/4/09
Last year, 75 year old Val Chatwin won 16 blue ribbons and the title “Utah Canning Champion” at the Utah State Fair. She entered 50 separate categories—the contest limit—including traditional as well as unique selections like apple-plum syrup and elk meat. The year before, she won 24 first place ribbons, but came in at second place.
The unstable economy and food safety scares have led to a record number of homeowners in Utah and elsewhere to plant a backyard garden, join a Community Supported Agriculture group or visit a farmers market. Chatwin recalls when everyone canned fruits and vegetables out of necessity, a time when everyone had fruit trees and good peaches, jams or pickles were unavailable in stores.
Chatwin’s strategy for her canning wins began with identifying which categories had the fewest contestants, avoiding popular categories like salsa, apricot jam and peaches. Her 2008 win requires her to sit out of competition the following year.
A list of upcoming food preservation workshops in August and September is posted at the end of the original article.
17. Yes we can: Safe and sound food processing—Kathy Stephenson, SLT 8/4/09
Six things canning beginners need are a canner, jars, lids and bands, accessories, recipes and a friend or mentor.
The canner can be a water bath or pressure canner depending on what is to be canned. A rack holds jars in a pot during processing 1-2 inches below water. Water-bath canners are for high-acid foods: ie peaches, apricots and other fruits, tomatoes, pickles, relishes, jams, jellies and syrups. They’re best for beginners and price. Pressure canners are large and deep and have a vacuum seal, offering high pressure with a little water. A gauge identifies working pressure and temperatures, and must be checked to assure it’s working. Pressure canners are good for low-acid foods that require higher canning temps: ie vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, stews and soups.
Standard mason jars come in a wide variety of sizes and are tempered to withstand canning temperatures. Threaded openings allow for a tight seal, and the jars are reusable, if not damaged. Lids and bands also create a tight seal. Flat lids should be used only once, but screw bands are reusable until bent or rusty.
Accessories including knives, cutting boards, liquid measuring cups, ladles, wooden/slotted spoons, scales, thermometers, juicers, a food mill or processor differ depending on what’s being canned. Review the recipe before getting started. A reliable recipe is a must, and substitutions and proportion changes are frowned on, because they can change the acid level and make the food unsafe, as with processing times. The process raises the food to a temperature for a certain amount of time that kills bacteria and other organisms that will otherwise contaminate the food. High altitudes require longer processing times.
A mentor is highly useful, whether a mom, grandma or cooking class. further information on a tight seal—improper head-space, air bubbles, dirty rims, incorrect processing time, improper cooling—and an altitude adjustment chart for water bath as well as pressure canners are available in the original article along with several canning recipes: spiced apples, roma salsa, hamburger dills, corn and red peppers with basil.
Recommended reading: The Ball Blue Book of Preserving, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Preserving Food, The National Center for Home Food Preservation http://uga.edu/nchfp/
18. Government help not enough for most dairy farmers—Dawn House, SLT 8/4/09
While the Agriculture Department has raised the price paid for milk and cheddar cheese through the Dairy Product Price Support Program, operational costs are still too high to avoid deep debt for Utah dairy farmers and elsewhere. Production skyrocketed last year with increased US milk export demand, but the global recession has brought plummeting demand and falling prices—a 30 year low. Farmers are shutting down or borrowing heavily, losing equity in land, animals and equipment.
Equity values have declined as well. Last year’s $2,000 milk cow fetches only $1,000 now. A spokesperson for the Western States Dairy Producers Trade Association added that operational costs have also exploded, pointing out a $40,000 tractor in 1970 now costs almost $300,000. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the issue “one of the worst dairy crises in decades.”
Temporary USDA price fixes will be in effect through October, and are expected to raise overall dairy farmer revenue by $243 million. USDA attempted to raise wholesale prices in March with the release of 200 million pounds of surplus powdered milk to schools, food banks and needy countries, seeking to reduce US supply.
Still, a vice president with the National Milk Producers Federation said while farmers currently receive about a dollar per gallon of milk, farm costs are around $1.50 per gallon. The federation announced in January that the dairy industry was on the brink of collapse, and the Obama Administration responded with supportive price hikes. Dairy farmers argue prices need to reflect feed, fuel and supply costs. The upshot is, milk could become “the only commodity to have a government-set price based on the cost of production.”
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food reports that the number of Utah farms declined from 900 in 1998 to 530 in 2007.
19. Airlines: Tougher limits needed on oil speculators—Cox News Service, SLT 8/4/09
Noting oil speculation contributes to large oil price swings and lost dollars for airlines, including when prices fall and carriers are obligated to hedging contracts, airlines advocated for tighter regulation at a Commodity Futures Trading Commission hearing last week. A similar push at peak oil prices a year ago failed. Though airlines typically defy regulation, they say speculative traders disproportionately control commodities markets and utilize loopholes, and point out speculation hurts consumers.
An Air Transport Association spokesman said many flight and job cuts and other industry impacts were a direct result of oil price volatility. Delta acknowledged it lost $8.4 billion in the “oil price bubble” since 2007, both to fuel expense and hedge losses, resulting in 10% reduction in flight capacity and 10,000 lost jobs. Fuel price volatility especially impacts airlines that plan flights months in advance.
Ironically, general counsel for Delta said speculators “play a valuable role by providing liquidity needed for hedging.” He argued that the commission should provide for enough speculation for liquidity, but no more.
20. Senate panel approves land swap—Matt Canham, SLT 8/4/09
The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), which oversees state-owned lands, would receive oil- and gas-rich parcels of currently owned federal land in exchange for scenic and wilderness quality terrain in Utah. Rep. Jim Matheson D-UT and Sen. Bob Bennett R-UT have worked on the bipartisan bill for four years, and Bennett called the bill very non-controversial, as shown by the relative rapidness with which it has gained approval. The bill moves out of committee and to the floor of the Senate for approval. The House passed the bill unanimously in July.
Also backing the bill is a diverse array of stakeholders including environmental groups, energy companies and county leaders. Tens of thousands of acres could be exchanged after the bill passes into law, simplifying the longstanding “checkerboard” pattern of state lands that were given to Utah by the federal government when it laid out the grid system for land distribution and management back in the 19th century. SITLA’s policy is to protect its investment interests, meaning lands of similar or better value must be exchanged—especially important where significant known mineral deposits are found.
21. Rabbit fever detected in Kane County—Mark Havnes, SLT 8/4/09
Southwestern Utah health officials advise people to avoid stray cats and the handling of dead animals. Two cats were identified with the bacterial infection tularemia in Kane County, a disease common to wild rabbits. Though no cases have been reported, humans can contract the disease by handling blood tissues of dead animals and through tick and deerfly bites. Untreated, rabbit fever can be fatal for humans. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 200 cases per year. A number of symptoms are possible [see article], with incubation period 3-14 days.
22. ‘No single cause’ says geologist; ‘Investigate’, says soon-to-be governor—Matthew D. LaPlante, SLT 8/4/09
The Utah Geological Survey’s director testified to the Executive Water Task Force Tuesday that no single cause existed for the failure of the Northern and Logan Canal that triggered a mudslide recently killing three people. Causes that may have contributed to the failure include serious leaks that destabilized the ground beneath, an unseasonably rainy June and the heavily watered golf course that sits above the canal.
While Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert requested a full investigation, he backed off due to a lack of authoritative body to review the failure under existing state law. He did reaffirm his belief that the failure must be investigated to prevent similar occurrences in the future. Herbert wants the task force to identify who could investigate. Though Herbert could authorize an investigation under state law, participation would be strictly voluntary. Both the city of Logan and the Utah Attorney General’s office have declined to investigate the canal failure’s causes.
23. Utahns sound off about hot waste at Matheson meeting—Judy Fahys, SLT 8/3/09
US Rep Jim Matheson D-UT recommended Monday that citizens become advocates for his low level radioactive waste ban bill. About 60 people attended the congressman’s local meeting. EnergySolutions Inc. can currently import waste from Italy and elsewhere around the globe, as well as import waste from 36 states across the US. Utah’s authority is limited only to health and safety issues per a court ruling earlier this year.
Matheson’s “roundtable”, as he called it, was not announced to EnergySolutions, and a spokesperson said the company would have appreciated the opportunity to present their side of the issue. She added that their faith lies in the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the proposed bill is not necessary.
Attendants to the meeting acknowledged disappointment over state lawmakers, regulators and the Radiation Control Board in their oversight of the Tooele disposal site. Radiation board member Pat Cone and former board chair Stephen Nelson expressed concerns over importation from other countries, state-granted exemption to EnergySolutions from a government site-ownership requirement, increase in radioactive waste blending and containment of more depleted uranium on top of the 49,000 tons already stored there.
One speaker said Utah was the only state to experience the downwind effects of fallout, which puts Utahns in the unique position to know the costs to public health and environment.
24. Kirby: Home canning: Crime in a bottle—Robert Kirby, SLT 8/4/09