Author: Joshua West

Worst. Pollution. Ever.

There are now two ways in which Utah resembles a third world country. The first is our well-documented birthrate; the highest in the nation. But this month we managed to set ourselves apart yet again by showing the rest of the nation that we may only be the thirty-fourth most populated state in the country but we can still pollute like number one. Starting on Jan. 10 the Environmental Protection Agency’s national pollution map showed that the Wasatch Front had the worst air quality in the entire United States. “As most residents of the Wasatch Front can attest, we...

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The lane less traveled

These days when someone encourages you to give up driving in favor of riding a bicycle, they usually bathe their argument in rhetoric about breaking dependence on foreign oil and stopping global climate change. Worthy arguments. Unfortunately, people are rarely motivated by moralistic calls to action. Plus, your individual choice not to drive a car has about zero effect on global climate change or our dependence on oil. Does that mean that any attempt to talk a driver into riding a bike is futile? Not at all. Odds are, if you commute to school or work in a car,...

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Letters from the wasteland

Writers like Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams have changed the view of deserts as wastelands to one of wonder and beauty. But there are some who would like to return the desert to its wasteland status. As the folks from the Appalachian Mountains know all too well, there is no better way to destroy a beautiful space to strip mine it. The Alton Coal Mine is one such area waiting to be destroyed, just 10 miles from Bryce Canyon, a popular and beautiful tourist destination for families and students alike. According to the Oct. 27 Associated Press article,...

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Troubled Bridge over Utah Lake

On the east banks of Utah Lake the wind rushes through the vast fields of reed grass and they sway like waves in the breeze. Enormous pelicans are soaring, families of ducks paddle between the stalks of cattails. All this image is missing are the sounds and smells of commuter traffic shattering the tranquility as it roars down an “elevated six lane vehicle traffic highway.” A private enterprise called Utah Crossing Inc. has come up with a solution to this problem. They propose to build a six lane, six-mile long bridge between Saratoga Springs and Orem. The bridge will be a “completely private venture, and be paid for through traffic toll.” According to Marc Heileson, a Sierra Club Western Regional Representative, there are myriad problems with this bridge. There are no water quality mitigations to offset the impacts that the bridge will have on the lake. Rain and snow that fall onto the bridge will become contaminated and flow into the lake. The construction itself will require a tearing up of the lake bed in order to install steel beams every 150 feet. All of this in spite of recent efforts to help the endangered June Sucker regain a foothold in its natural habitat. Destroying and polluting the habitat is obviously counterproductive to those efforts. Utah Lake is a critical ecosystem for migratory birds. Birds use it as breeding...

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Snowbird supporting dirty coal

Dick Bass, owner of the Snowbird Ski Resort, is currently involved in a proposal to create the second largest strip mine in the U.S.  The company responsible for the project, PacRim Coal LLC, of which Bass is a co-owner, is the driving force behind plans to eviscerate and pollute large tracts of Alaskan wilderness. According to the website for the Chuitna Coal Project, as the proposed strip mine is called, “The Project is based on the development of a 300 million ton, ultra low sulfur, subbituminous coal resource, the center of which is approximately 12 miles from the coast of Cook Inlet … The Project area is largely undeveloped except for a system of primitive roadways that remain as a result of oil and gas exploration and production and logging activities.” This “largely undeveloped” area also happens to include 30 miles of bear, moose and salmon habitat. The Chuinta Coal Mine would be the first in Alaska permitted to mine directly through an active salmon stream. Local fishermen argue that this mine will destroy 11 miles of salmon habitat in the Chuinta river tributaries, and the project would result in seven million gallons of waste per day being dumped into the Chuinta watershed. The effect on the wildlife would be devastating and irreversible. The 300 million tons of coal will then be shipped to Asia and burned. The irony...

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