Wasatch Environmental Update; Emery County and Energy

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Wasatch Environmental Update for September 29, 2013

By John Worlock, Member, SOC Board of Directors

“Emery County and Energy”

In spite of our attachment and commitment to the Wasatch Mountains, we have found our attention slipping eastward in the past week.  Eastward and southward into Emery County and specifically to the intersection, just west of the town of Green River, of Interstate 70 and US Highway 6.  That intersection, with its rail and roadway access, threatens to become the energy hub of southeastern Utah, with the proposed construction of Utah’s first ever nuclear power reactor as well as the nation’s first new petroleum refinery in nearly four decades.

It’s a seemingly dry and unimposing intersection, but attractive, not only for its transportation potential, but also for its proximity to the plentiful water of the Green River, rushing down toward its confluence with the Colorado River near Moab.  Did we say plentiful?  Yes, for the Green River’s plentiful flow is an important contributor to the essential water in the wider Colorado Basin, which is shared by agricultural, commercial and municipal interests in all of that Basin’s seven southwestern states.

It’s not plentiful enough, apparently, as both of the Colorado Basin’s large reservoirs, Lake Powell in Utah and Lake Mead in Nevada, are running half-empty, with no relief in sight.

Last week our attention shifted to the Seventh District Court in Price, where a consortium of environmental groups has challenged the ruling of the State Engineer in approving the use of Green River water for cooling the proposed nuclear reactor.  They challenge, as well, the Engineer’s opinion that the reactor’s proponents have the financial wherewithal to make it work.  It has been a lively week in Price, and we have enjoyed the reporting of HEAL Utah’s Policy Director, Matt Pacenza.  Visit this website to read more about the controversy:  H-E-A-L Utah dot org.

A second star in the energy-constellation of that lonesome highway intersection near Green River would be a petroleum refinery, situated to take in the raw product from the Uinta Basin and worse yet from the shale-oil deposits and tar sands nearby in the Book Cliffs.  This development is also opposed by a coalition of environmental groups, in this case led by the Grand Canyon Trust.  Go to grandcanyontrust dot org to read about their opposition.

Save Our Canyons wishes to send a special thank you to KRCL.org for their generous sponsorship of the Wasatch Environmental Update program and would like to remind our members to please support community radio. 

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