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UTAH CHAPTER PRIORITY ISSUES
Aircraft OverflightsOrganic Farming & Pesticides
Development & Sprawl
Directory of Environmental Organizations
Toole Chemical Weapons Incinerator
When citizens visit their national parks they last thing they should have to expect is airliners spoiling the occasion with noise. Such overflights disturb native wildlife and eliminate the natural quiet. Chapter activist Dick Hingson has been a leader in the fight to keep public parks free of noise pollution and disturbance. Find out how to make that effort successful.
Grand Canyon National Park
Bicycling is an increasingly practical way to commute without adding to air quality problems in Utah's urban areas.
Salt Lake Bicycle Collective
The State of Utah provides an on-line guide to safe bicycle commuting at
Ogden City promotes bicycle commuting at
Salt Lake City has a web page packed with useful information,
Air along Utah's Wasatch Front (Ogden to Provo) tends to be visibly polluted on most days. The pollution is caused primarily by automobile emissions and major industries, particularly MagCorp and Kennecott Copper. Other parts of the state suffer from local urban air pollution and regional haze due to power plants, refineries, and other industries. The three criteria pollutants that are of most concern in Utah are carbon monoxide, ozone, and PM2.5 (particulates smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter).
Long-time clean-air activist Nina Dougherty and other Utah Chapter volunteers have worked for cleaner cars and a less auto-dependent way of life, and have fought to clean up local industries by demanding initiation and expansion of state air-quality monitoring, by challenging specific permits, and by pushing for conversion to better pollution-control technologies.
Outside the Wasatch Front, chapter volunteers successfully opposed construction of the Kaiparowitz and Thousand Springs power projects and the sitting of the Intermountain Power Project (IPP) near Capitol Reef National Park. (The project was later constructed near Delta in Millard County.)
Sierra Club volunteers, often in coalition with other organizations, have worked to influence the formation, implementation, and enforcement of state and national air-quality laws -- from renewal of the Clean Air Act to preparation of State Implementation Plans -- through administrative appeals, lobbying, comments, rallies and letter-writing campaigns.
Department of Environmental Quality
EPA Air Quality Index
American Lung Association Study
Global warming is perhaps the most drastic human-caused alteration of the Earth’s processes. Coastal flooding, movements of agriculture, habitat loss, and a reduction in biodiversity are just of a few of the detrimental consequences that can be expected from the continued rate of CO2 emissions. Countries like Canada are already working to meet their obligations by committing to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas reduction. Solving the global warming problem will ultimatelybe the cumulation of all our individual decisions.
Offsetting Your Carbon Emissions
Climate Hot Map
Salt Lake City Green
In addition to making urban life more pleasant, smart growth preserves and creates open spaces, protects quaint rural areas, and reduces the time spent commuting. Large freeways and “Big Box” retailers reduce community coherence and perpetuate automobile dependency. The Sierra Club believes that families thrive when parents watch their children—not taillights.
National Sierra Club Stop Sprawl Program
Community & Environment Defense Services
Urban Lands Institute
Good Jobs First
National Wildlife Federation
Reliance on non-renewable and polluting energy sources will not suffice in the new century. Coal, oil, and nuclear power have been detrimental to human health; usage has national security implications. Utah Clean energy advocates, like Ivan Weber, have proven that renewable sources are not only possible but practical as well.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration has paid little attention to new resources and is siding with the non-renewable energy industry. However, Utah residents need not contribute to such precarious policies. Simple and affordable opportunities exist, which protect the environment through the use of alternative sources and conservation methods.
National Sierra Club Energy Plan
State Environmental Resource Center
Utah Clean Energy
Utah Oil & Gas Production
Educators have a unique opportunity to interact with large numbers of people in an atmosphere of learning. Find out how to integrate environmental awareness into your curriculum.
Utah Society for Environmental Education
National Wildlife Federation
Environmental degradation is not an equal opportunity transgression. Those that are closer to the land are served a disproportionate amount of the damage. Find out how Hopi Native Americas are fighting for clean water.
Black Mesa Coalition
Forests are a part of our nation's heritage. Yet almost half of the worlds forests and 56% of America's coastal temperate forests have been destroyed. Activists like Kevin Walker, in partnership with the Sierra Club, have been working at state and federal levels to protect forests for their aesthetic values and as sanctuaries for critical plant and animal species. Now thanks to the Utah Forest Network, we know how much additional roadless land on the Manti-La Sal, Fishlake and Dixie National Forests remains and needs to be protected. Check out the maps and beautiful photos.
UFN Wilderness Proposal
National Sierra Club Forest Information
Red Rock Forests
Fuels Reduction Projects
Federal land exchanges have become more numerous and increasingly suspicious in recent years. Although law prohibits the trading of these lands when it is not in the interests of general public, evidence exists to suggest that regulators are not fulfilling their obligations.
Western Land Exchange Project
In September of 2002, the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the planned Legacy Highway had been implemented in an “arbitrary and capricious” fashion. Since alternative routes and other methods of transportation were virtually ignored, the Court sent the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) back to the drawing board by requiring a Supplemental EIS.
Successfully stopping the road was no easy task. A coalition of smart growth activists and local farmers, led by long-time volunteer Nina Dougherty, and staffer Marc Heileson, were forced to wage a lengthy media and legal campaign. Thanks to their efforts a costly and unnecessary road has been halted for the time being. Consequently, one of America’s finest migratory bird refuge will be protected and small farms in the area will continue to grow crops.
Utahns for Better Transportation
Taxpayers for Common Sense Critique
Environmental Protection Agency Assessment
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires developers and governments to reconcile the damages that may arise from their projects with the interests of the environment, with an EIS.
Details about NEPA
Unfortunately for Utahns, the devastating consequences of nuclear energy hit close to home. Utah’s downwinders know from painful experience that the entire nuclear cycle—from testing through disposal of radioactive waste—threatens human and ecosystem health. Radioactive waste is the disastrous legacy that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be left with.
Taxpayers are, in fact, why nuclear energy can even be considered a competitive option. If the costs of facilities needed to store nuclear waste were factored into the kilowatt price, it would become remarkably expensive. Instead, costly waste storage facilities like Yucca Mountain have to be built by the government; with no guarantees of long-term safety.
National Sierra Club Nuclear Waste Information
Downwinders Special Report
Healthy Environmental Alliance Utah
Earth’s oceans sustain a plethora of plant and animal species. Maintenance of robust biodiversity cannot be achieved without healthy oceans. In addition, phytoplankton in these waters convert CO2 emissions into oxygen. Efforts to curb the warming of global temperatures will be fruitless unless our seas are preserved. Yet irresponsible oil companies and cruise liners continue to endanger pristine waters.
Blue Water Network
Organic farming allows consumers to improve personal health while protecting the environment. Diseases and pests affecting crops inevitably adapt to pesticides, thus requiring a higher application to achieve the same output. Usage of these toxins in agriculture is a shortsighted effort to improve productivity.
The New Farm
Utahns are currently consuming much more than our share of the earth's resources. “Think globally and act locally” is not an adage that the Sierra Club coined, however, it is an attitude that members should follow.
Turn the Tide
Utah's Ecological Footprint
Pay attention to how your elected officials are voting and hold them accountable!
The League of Conservation Voters
Utah Chapter Sierra Club Bill Tracker
Landfills are not only visual blights but threaten water supplies as well. Waste incinerators exacerbate air quality problems. Study upon study has demonstrated that recycling reduces the costs of waste management and is cheaper than harvesting virgin material. Recycling reduces the need for landfills and incinerators while making businesses and households more efficient.
Some rural Utah counties, opposed to wilderness designation, have seized upon the right-of-way grant in an antiquated and by-now-repealed federal statute, R.S. 2477, to try to block wilderness designation by claiming pre-existing "public highways" across federal lands. Many of the routes claimed by counties are rough tracks which have not been used for decades and have by now largely disappeared. Many are physically impossible to travel in any type of vehicle or are completely invisible. Sierra Club volunteers have been active in a Utah Wilderness Coalition project to document the actual condition of routes claimed by counties across proposed wilderness units. The project has generated many volumes of photographs and factual data, which are publicly available to refute spurious county R.S. 2477 claims.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon recently dropped RS 2477 claims that would have threatened the watershed and damaged the fragile canyon environment. Check out the bullet we dodged.
R.S. 2477 Background
Photos of claims
RS 2477 Claims Recently Repudiated by Salt Lake County
Use your shopping dollar to support local green businesses. The ReDirect Guide lists some businesses in the Salt Lake City/Park City area that have been screened for good environmental practices. Great Green Goods has stylish and innovative products made from recycled and re-used materials.
Great Green Goods
Under international treaty, the United States military is required to destroy all of its existing chemical weapons. The Army chose incineration for disposal and planned eight sites for the purpose. One of the two sites currently running is located in the Tooele Valley west of Salt Lake City.
Under normal conditions, incineration releases small quantities of nerve and blister agents, organochlorides such as dioxins, and heavy metals. Accidents may cause the release of large quantities. Many accidental releases have already occurred at the Tooele site, as attested to by whistleblowers working at the site. The club, through Utah Chapter volunteer Cindy King, seeks to have the Tooele facility retrofitted to use a method other than incineration.
Toxic chemical emissions increase the rate of diseases like cancer and respiratory illnesses. High levels of mercury in fish have caused health experts to caution against eating fish regularly and have advised pregnant women to consume very little, if at all. Committed to keeping toxics out of our air, water, and food supply, the Sierra Club lobbies for restrictions on toxic materials and supports increases in Superfund cleanup money.
Scorecard: Facts on Local Pollution
EPA Chemical Report
Utah Superfund Sites
Recent trade accords have encouraged the weakening of environmental standards, already on the books, in various countries. For fear of international litigation, these agreements have also deterred lawmakers from passing new, tougher green standards. The interests of international corporations are at the center of these laws—not quality of life issues.
Without the vote of a single United States’ citizen, domestic protections of wildlife have already been weakened by unaccountable institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Bush Administration is now pushing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which would give polluters broad powers in the developing world.
The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club maintains that trade can be made fair and democratic. Environmental provisions can be integrated into these agreements, preventing the “race to the bottom” on standards.
National Sierra Club Trade Information
Utah and the Salt Lake Valley are at a crossroads. The enormous popularity of TRAX has established that Utahns want transportation options—not just new roads. Our leaders can kindle this opportunity and create a livable urban atmosphere or follow the same automobile- driven growth plans that have turned other cities into asphalt jungles. Balanced transportation planning includes the promotion of bicycles and safe bicycle paths, new light-rail lines, commuter rail, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
Electric Railroaders’ Association (ERA)
Surface Transportation Policy Project
Utah Transit Authority Commuter Rail Information
Utahns for Better Transportation
Some two decades ago a handful of Utah Chapter Sierra Club volunteers, led by Jim Catlin, began detailed field work to determine which lands in Utah, administered by the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) qualified for wilderness designation. Their efforts mushroomed, and by now thousands of hours of field work by Sierra Club volunteers and others have led to the citizens' proposal to designate 9.1 million acres of BLM wilderness in Utah. The club is one of the founding and principal members of the Utah Wilderness Coalition, which developed and actively supports legislation based on the citizens' wilderness proposal.
Through the chapter’s Adopt-A-Wilderness Program, volunteers are monitoring the condition of proposed wilderness areas and working with the BLM to ensure their continued protection.
Parks are made to bring the music to the many, but by
the time many are attuned to hear it there is little left but noise.
Utah is, after all, located in a desert. The Salt Lake area is nearly the driest of metropolitan areas and yet residents consume water at near the highest rates in the country. Water conservation is absolutely essential if Utah is to continue adding new residents and develop further.
Quality of water cannot be ignored, especially in our rivers. The meandering waters in Utah beautify the region and are responsible for the second saltiest lake in the world—the Great Salt Lake. Therefore, stewardship of the Bear River becomes prudent, since it is the largest tributary to the lake.
Utah Rivers Council
Bear River Watershed Council
Crucial to the survival of migratory birds and other plant and animal species, wetlands also serve as the Earth’s “kidneys” by absorbing toxins and pollutants. EPA administrator Mike Leavitt briefly flirted with the idea of removing protections from as much as a third of the nations wetlands. The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club will fight any such efforts in the future and stop development along Utah’s wetlands.
EPA Wetlands Information
The West is home to some of the most spectacular forms of wildlife. With ecosystems thousands of years in the making, like the Colorado Plateau, it should come as little surprise that such splendor is in the “backyard.” Diversity among species in natural areas gives Utah character and distinction, yet many are endangered or threatened.
Canadian Lynx Amendment
Colorado Plateau Ecosystem
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