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Friday, November 30, 2007
I would like to invite anyone interested in joining a newly formed Google group, called LDS Earth Stewardship. We are trying to gather resources, facilitate conversations, and stimulate better stewardship for those of or interested in the LDS faith. Please pass the word along to anyone you know who might be interested.
Click this link to join: http://groups.google.com/group/lds-earth-stewardship
All my best,
Humanities College Professor
Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature
3032 JFSB, Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
Tel: (801)422-7151, Cell: (801)616-6441, Fax: (801)422-0305
Sunday, November 25, 2007
- Provo City announced the Northwest Connector this month in the November Community Newsletter, which can be viewed online at:
- The proposed road will run from Geneva Road in the 2000 North area to Center Street to the Provo Airport.
- This area is very environmentally sensitive. The Provo River, wetlands and the Despain Ranch and Bird Refuge will all be impacted if this road is built. As a concerned resident of the area I voiced my concerns about this project at the Provo City Council meeting Nov. 20, 2006. The meeting is replayed on the Provo City channel 17 daily at 12.00 noon until the next meeting on Dec. 4th.
- This road is partially a ripple effect of the Geneva Road expansion which will only be three lanes through Provo because of historic buildings along Geneva Road including the old tithing building on the west side of the street. The EIS on Geneva Road has already conducted traffic studies with the Northwest Connector and the Lakeshore Drive connectors already included in the traffic model. This road will not run through residential areas and will connect to the airport through the wetlands.
- Provo City has also recently announced a new retail development to be located in East Bay, the Southgate Shopping Center. This new shopping development will be built over the Provo City Wetlands in this area. The city announcement addresses the wetland environmental issues associated with the develpment and can be viewed at http://www.provo.org/current_issues.southgate.html.
- Here are the concerns I have about the proposed shopping mall regarding the wetlands:
- I feel we are being shortchanged in the total amount of wetlands in our community by the new Southgate Shopping Center.
- The Despain Ranch Bird Refuge was created in 2000 by the Utah Quality Growth Commission. The new shopping center has just been announced and the city is saying that they are replacing those wetlands with the Despain Ranch Wetlands.
- The wetlands that are currently in the East Bay area on Kuhni Lane are locked, gated and fenced. You have to call for an appointment to visit this area, and I don’t want to see the wetlands locked up in the Despain Ranch wetlands area. Residents should be allowed to enjoy the natural beauty of the wetland without scheduling an appointment.
- The proposed Northwest Connector and Lakeshore Drive Connector would make two new bridges over the Provo River in a very short area, approximately one mile or less apart. This would impact both the river, which is very fertile in these areas, and the river trail. The June Sucker fish and native trout would also be impacted. We are currently able to enjoy two miles of trail here without having to contend with automobile exhaust fumes, and I am concerned that we will lose the clean air here as a result of these roads. As a frequent visitor to the river trail I suggest that one bridge be built for both roads. Another suggestion regarding the bridge is that it be made high enough for canoeing, which is a favorite pastime here. The bridge should also allow birds and other wildlife to travel through it as well.
- As far as the wetlands are concerned, the road would dissect this area and encourage development. This area should not be built on because Utah Lake and the Provo River can reclaim these lands for a number of reasons. We have seen this happen in the past and we need this area for a buffer zone. There is also Peteetneet soil in this area, which is rare and takes many years to form.
- I am concerned that if airport truck traffic is allowed on this road, if it is built, we could possibly have fuel or chemical spills that would devastate the wildlife, groundwater and Utah Lake.
- As far as both projects are concerned, Provo City is sending mixed messages. On one hand we are being told the wetlands will be improved and on the other we are being told that a road will have to be built through the wetlands for airport traffic. The EIS for the Northwest Connector should begin soon although a date has not yet been announced. The agency that will be building the road has not yet been announced yet however preliminary information indicates that it will not be UDOT, and it will most likely be Provo City.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
- If we don't build all these [150 proposed] new coal-fired power plants now, won't we be setting ourselves up for rolling blackouts and jeopardizing our energy future?
- Coal is a very inefficient source of energy. In fact the average coal plant in the U.S. is only 33% efficient-that's a lot of wasted resources. There are many, more efficient alternatives to coal-fired power plants that can both guarantee our energy future and provide cleaner, healthier options for meeting our energy needs. Instead of wasting more resources on coal, we can invest in efficiency technologies and renewables that don't cause serious health problems and global warming pollution.
- What role can coal play in a cleaner, healthier energy future?
- There is nothing clean about coal-fired power plants-from being the largest source of toxic mercury pollution to releasing 40% of our nation's total carbon dioxide emissions every year, coal-fired power plants are the dirtiest source of energy we use today. While we won't be able to wean ourselves off of coal tomorrow, we should be moving away from coal energy and cleaning up the existing plants that are the worst polluters. A truly cleaner and healthier energy future relies on smart solutions like efficiency and renewables, not on dirty coal.
- Isn't coal the most affordable energy choice, providing energy at half the cost of other fuels?
- Wrong. Coal is very expensive. The cost of coal prices has skyrocketed over the past year, and the cost of building coal plants has escalated more than 50 percent in some instances. And consider other costs associated with coal: From lung disease to the loss of mountaintops because of irresponsible mining to health care and environmental destruction, the hidden costs of coal are immense. Future carbon dioxide regulations may also increase the cost of coal. With the cost of efficiency and renewables like wind dropping to competitive levels, building new coal-fired power plants is a poor investment for our pocketbooks and our future.
- Can't coal help reduce our reliance on oil?
- Even though coal-to-liquids plants have been around since World War II, the truth is that liquid coal is not a practical way to lessen our dependence on oil. Liquid coal plants are costly and complex, requiring huge investments to produce even the smallest amount of synthetic fuels. Replacing a mere 10% of our fuel with liquid coal would require an increase in coal mining of over 40%, increasing the already devastating effects of mining on communities across the country. Burning liquid coal creates almost double the global warming emissions as the petroleum-based gas we use now. Instead of wasting our tax dollars on these plants, we should be investing in proven ways to cut our oil dependence like increasing fuel efficiency standards.
- Don't we have a 250 year supply of coal right here in America?
- Although the coal industry claims that we have a near endless supply of coal right here in America, the truth is that it is already becoming increasingly harder to mine, leading to the increased use of destructive techniques like mountaintop removal mining. Much of our nation's coal reserves are so hard to access that it simply doesn't make economic sense to mine them. Coal is a limited resource, and it will run out even sooner if we double our consumption by building a new rush of coal-fired power plants.
- Isn't clean energy too far away and too expensive to be practical?
- No, in fact many states across the nation are already investing heavily in efficiency and making the switch to renewable energy. California's aggressive efficiency programs have held per capita electricity use constant for over 10 years, while other states have seen energy use more than double. Over 20 states already require a percentage of their energy to come from renewable sources. Minnesota recently adopted a 30% renewable energy standard by 2020, while New Jersey has a 22.5% by 2020 requirement and New York is poised to get 24% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2013.
- Not only is clean energy good for the environment, it is good for the economy, too. Wind is already competitively priced and is cheaper than coal in many places. The cost of efficiency is as little as half the cost of new coal-fired power plants. A greater investment in renewables and efficiency would not only help lower our energy prices but would also help local economies. A recent study by the Apollo Alliance found that renewable energy generated 40% more jobs per dollar invested than coal.
- What about "clean coal" technologies, like IGCC?
- Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology has gotten a lot of attention because it can emit lower amounts of soot and smog pollution than traditional plants. However, while IGCC can lower some emissions, it emits just as much global warming pollution as other coal plants. There is no such thing as clean coal. It is an oxymoron. Although the coal companies have promised future technological innovations that will allow us to generate electricity from coal with less pollution somewhere down the road, that technology does not yet exist. And, even though technologies do exist that can make coal plants cleaner, coal companies have been dragging their feet on installing these modern pollution controls. Not surprisingly most of the proposed new plants are the same pulverized coal plants that were built in our grandparents' era-only bigger and more polluting.
- Can replacing light bulbs really reduce the need to build new coal fired power plants?
- Yes, it is a start. A study by McKinsey and Company found that by increasing energy efficiency we could cut our energy consumption by more than half. Switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 75% less electricity than regular bulbs, better insulating our homes, and buying Energy Star appliances are small actions that can make our energy savings really add up. Of course, light bulbs alone won't solve the entire problem-but they are a step in the right direction. We also need states to take action and provide incentives for our utilities to help us save energy, instead of rewarding utilities when they sell more electricity. The energy saved by reducing waste will actually add-up to be America's greatest, least tapped power source. By thinking of efficiency as another fuel at our disposal we can lower energy demand, which will keep energy prices low and combat global warming-all while eliminating the need for dirty and expensive new coal plants.
- Click HERE for more coal info. Tim Wagner (801-467-9294) is the Utah Sierra Club's Smart Energy Campaign Director.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
October 26, 2007
It's been awhile since the Sierra Club has had much of a local presence in Utah Valley. Nestled between Utah Lake and the Wasatch Mountains about half an hour south of Salt Lake City, the fast-growing valley centers on the cities of Provo and Orem in Utah County, sometimes referred to as "the reddest county in the reddest state in the union."
But for the last year the Utah Valley Sierra Forum (UVSF), some members of which are pictured above at an outing to the endangered wetlands of Utah Lake, has been meeting monthly at the Provo Public Library. Comprised largely but not exclusively of Sierra Club members, the UVSF isn't an official Sierra Club group, but it operates with the blessing of the Utah Chapter office in Salt Lake City. In addition to its monthly meetings, the group conducts outings, organizes rallies, hosts panel discussions and speaking engagements, and sponsors a variety of green events. .........CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
"Congress is set to pass the energy bill this Fall. We'll get more solar and wind and even better fuel efficiency for our cars. There's just one thing: one line in the new energy bill provides up to $50 billion for the nuclear industry.
We've already got the safe, viable alternatives to replace the dirty energy we're using now. Building new atomic reactors in an age of terror threats is not only scary, but the toxic waste from nuclear power threatens our health and our planet.
Please sign the petition, watch the video, and pass it along to friends. [The petition says, "America's new energy policy needs to focus on safe and economic fuel sources. Congress must strip the nuclear tax subsidies from the energy bill before they pass it."]
For more information, please go to www.nukefree.org."
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Over the next year, presidential candidates will be crisscrossing the country trying to gain public support. The 2008 presidential election presents an important opportunity to ask the candidates questions about issues that affect our health, safety, and environment. This is your chance to educate and engage the candidates and other voters on the issues you care about most!
There are many ways to express your views. You can attend candidate events, call local campaign offices, submit questions on the candidates' websites, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. We encourage you to engage the candidates and demand answers.
To help you get started, here are sample questions for the candidates:
Global Warming: We're already feeling the effects of global warming. Scientists tell us that we can avoid much more dangerous levels of warming by reducing U.S. heat-trapping emissions 15 to 20 percent by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050. What's your plan to meet these targets? More...
Nuclear Weapons: As president, would you re-affirm that it is the policy of the United States to work with other nations toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons? More...
Political Interference in Science: What will you do to assure the independence and integrity of federal advisory committees, protect federal scientists from political interference with their work, and to stop the censorship and suppression of their research results? More...
Food and Farming: As president, what measures would you take to encourage modern, sustainable forms of agriculture that promote better human health and a cleaner environment? More...
Renewable Energy: To reduce our global warming pollution, would you support legislation to dramatically increase our use of renewable energy sources—like the sun and wind—to at least 15 percent? More...
Vehicle Fuel Economy: According to the National Academy of Sciences, the technology already exists to make today's automobiles average 40 miles per gallon without sacrificing choices in size, performance, or safety. Where do you stand on the Senate's compromise proposal to make America's passenger vehicle fleet average 35 miles per gallon by 2020? More...
Your questions will be most effective if you make them personal. Use your own words and tie the issue to your personal expertise or experience, or to the community you live in. Click HERE for more info.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Global Warming: Power Shift 2007
This weekend, almost 6,000 students from across the country converged on Washington, D.C. for the first-ever national youth climate summit. The summit built on successful student efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of over 300 colleges and universities, coalescing local movements into one vision for the future, which includes 80 percent reductions in carbon emissions by 2050, the creation of 5 million new green jobs and investment in clean energy solutions, not new coal plants.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Over the last year, Union of Concerned Scientists supporters across the country have sent thousands of letters to state and federal lawmakers urging them to reduce global warming pollution. While we’ve laid important groundwork and celebrated some concrete victories at the state and regional level—the United States still needs national comprehensive climate legislation.
Soon, Congress will be consumed with 2008 presidential election activity. We need them to take action now on a strong policy that helps prevent dangerous warming. We have a small window of opportunity—and we must act now.
Last week, Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) introduced America’s Climate Security Act (S. 2191). The bill’s bi-partisan support and strong framework for reducing global warming pollution will help build momentum for real congressional action. However, the Senate must act to strengthen a few elements of the bill. Please urge your senators to ensure that the bill helps avoid the worst effects of global warming.
Kate Abend, National Field Organizer, UCS Climate Program