Tag Archives: energy

Mineral and Petroleum “Literacy” Act: “Balanced” curriculum?

Legislators are on the move this year to take control of Utah’s education system (SJR1 and SJR9).  It seems that there are already steps being taken to write curriculum in the form of legislation.

Rep. Jack Draxler, R-Logan, is pushing legislation that would require educators to "consider" adding lessons into the curriculum about energy development, with the "Mineral and Petroleum Literacy Act", HB25.  The bill has passed the house and has moved on to the Senate.

Recommended by the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee, and, in Drexler’s mind, in an effort to "balance" the curriculum, the bill

seeks to "educate" children about mining and petroleum drilling. The funds for the program would come out of surplus mining profits….most Utah kids don’t know that oil, gas and coal contribute to their education, and to the state’s economy. "Most of them," he[Drexler] said, "don’t know their iPods, their toothbrushes, their homes and their roads are all products of this kind of natural resource development."

(Jillian Rayfield, TPMMuckracker, November 19, 2010, who adds "The plan, it seems, is to show young Utahans how great oil is.")

It’s not enough that information about Utah is taught in elementary and middle school Utah Studies curriculum, including industries of the Beehive state. I t is speculated by some that legislators fear the knowledge that children are receiving in other curricular areas about energy and conservation.

The Salt Lake Tribune gives this bill a "thumbs down" to this piece of legislation:

Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Ogden, has convinced his colleagues in the House that Utah schoolchildren are learning too much about energy conservation and recycling and not enough about the benefits of drilling for gas and oil. We’re not sure why they see this as a scale that must be balanced. Somehow, they seem to fear, children will be persuaded that if conservation and recycling are good then energy development is bad. Draxler’s bill would allocate all-too-scarce dollars so that teachers can explain that Americans should continue to rely on and subsidize fossil fuels. If balance is needed, we’d like to also see an explanation of how burning carbon fuels and drilling for them are contributing to the air that’s so bad these same children can’t go outside at recess.

Not to mention education about the longevity of the natural resources being extracted and the impact to the ecosystems as a result of the degradation of the land.

The funding allocation is vague as well.  While it is stated that monies would be generated from the surplus funds of the Oil and Gas Conservation Account, which is a fund that has a state mandated cap, it doesn’t say how much would be given from that and how much beyond the cap would need to come from Utah taxpayers.

This is a biased and unbalanced piece of legislation that has not brought all interests to the table for discussion.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Outlining Priorities: Guv’s State of the State

Utah Legislature Watch)
Governor Herbert delivered his first State of the State Addre

tonight. His priorities including keeping taxes from being raised, holding public education harmless from budget cuts, transportation, and legislative ethics reform.

For the first time in three years, we are expecting an increase in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year. Housing is beginning to stabilize, the state’s labor market is resilient and our unemployment rate remains below the national average. I know this is of small consolation to those who are out of work, but we will continue to make sound policy decisions to move this state – and your families – back to solid economic ground and toward a more hopeful future. 

First and foremost, we must protect public and higher education. Utah has long been committed to funding our public schools, our colleges and universities, and our technical institutions. In fact, few states in the country spend as much of their overall budgets on education as we do. Our unique demographics – which is a way of saying we have larger families – mean we must continue to increase funding to maintain and enhance the solid education and training our students receive.

In spite of our difficult budget situation, I call upon you, our great legislators, to maintain our current level of commitment to education! Secondly, we must balance our budget responsibly, and in a way that does not stifle an economy that is finally beginning to show signs of recovery. We need to support our hard-working citizens and businesses, not stifle them with new tax burdens. We need to help them succeed, not hamper their success. And we need to think toward the future, not just of today. 


Read the entire text of Governor Herbert’s State of the State address here.

Candle Night December 2008

Candle Night Newsletter
Invitation to Candle Night December 2008
December 15, 2008
Candle Night Committee
Candle Night December 2008

Turn off your lights for two hours from 8 to 10 p.m. on the evening on
December 21, 2008.

Do something special . . .
Read a book with your child by candlelight.
Enjoy a quiet dinner with a special person.
This night can mean many things for many people.
A time to save energy, to think about peace,
to think about people in distant lands
who share our planet.

Pulling the plug opens the window to a new world.
Awakens us to human freedom and diversity.
It is a process of discovery about our potential.
However you spend them, for just two hours, join us.
Turning off the lights, and help us spread
a gentle wave of candlelight around the earth.

On the evening of December 21, from 8 to 10 p.m.
Turn off your lights. Take it slow.

Candle Night started in 2003 by several non-governmental organizations.
This grassroots movement is now spreading to citizens, businesses and
municipal governments. Candle Night suggests spending some time in more
natural light, away from everyday life and artificial lighting. It’s not a
movement intending to force people to turn off their lights or to
raucously protest against anything.

The Candle Night Committee hopes to extend this event from Japan to the
world. We will provide readers with information and activities of Candle
Night, and stories related to candles, lights and fires. We hope you feel
connected with people around the world through Candle Night.

To learn more about our initiative, read "2008 Summer Solstice Marks
Candle Night’s Fifth Anniversary of Sending a Message to the World"
written by Junko Edahiro and Yuko Kishikami at:

If you are interested in the activities of Candle Night, please go to 2007

2008 Report will be on the web soon.

For more information, please visit our website.

Report on Candle Night Summer Solstice 2008
The lights-down events were held from 8 to 10 p.m. on June 21, the
solstice, and July 7, the first day of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. This
was done in collaboration with the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
According to the ministry, a total of 149,937 facilities all over Japan,
including major landmarks, businesses, municipalities and commercial
facilities joined. During the campaign, over 2,370,000 kilowatts per hour
of electricity was saved, which translated into the equivalent of 925 tons
of CO2. This amount is equal to the daily emission of about 64,000

On June 21, lights-out events were also held in Seoul, Hong Kong, and
various cities in Taiwan and China.

*Candle Night Korea
In Seoul, a countdown event was held from 18:00 to 22:00 at the foot of
the N Seoul Tower. Some streetlights were turned off in the downtown area
for an hour from 20:00 to 21:00. (Korean Women’s Environmental Network)

*Dim It–Hong Kong
Over 142 buildings in the Victoria Harbor area turned out their lights for
one hour from 20:30 to 21:30.
(FoE Hong Kong)

New Candlescape is Open!
The "Candlescape," an online, 3-D "globe" message board, displays messages
from participants around the world. In 2008, it is upgraded with a variety
of functions. For example, messages can be displayed in many different
languages as originally posted. Some of the messages will also be
presented in English and Japanese translation.

Please post your message on the Candlescape – we would like to convey it
to as many people as possible. We are looking forward to hearing from you!


These are some of the messages posted on the Candlescape:

*Slow is beautiful. Certain things can be seen only in darkness. Let’s put
lights in our hearts.

*I want to start from what I can. We don’t have to overdo, but we can
begin whenever we feel like!

*It is a magical feeling to be able to connect with someone, whom we have
never met and who lives far away, through candlelight. I feel warm and

Messages and Essays by Key Promoters of Candle Night
On our website, you can read messages and essays written by the key
promoters of Candle Night in Japan, who initiated the movement and have
been playing a central role in the promotion of Candle Night.

*What do you mean by "affluence?" In his essay, Shinichi Tsuji, a cultural
anthropologist, introduced a South American legend of a hummingbird. "I am
only doing what I can do," it says, but the idea may lead us to the true
sense of an "affluent society."

*Candle Night–when Environment Sets the Trend of the New Era
Many people may not be sure how to change themselves, although they
realize they want to, or they feel they need to, change something.
However, just a little effort can be change everything.

Miyako Maekita is a copywriter and creative director, particularly working
on public relations of non-governmental organizations. You can read her
essay at;

Stories about Candles and Fires Wanted
Please send us information on Candle Night and lights out events in your
community. We also invite your local stories, festivals and events related
to candles and fires. Please send emails to: eninfo at candle-night.org

My Connection to Mountaintop Removal

Today I visited the I Love Mountains website.  The site has a feature where you can enter your zip code to find your connection to endangered mountains.  There was no surprise when my connection came up as follows:

You are connected to mountaintop removal. Your electricity provider, PacifiCorp, buys coal from companies engaged in mountaintop removal

The story of Black Mountain, Virginia, is one of many that are connected to the power plants on your grid, which are marked on the map below.

The mountaintop removal mines shown in red are connected to the nearest coal power plant on your grid: KUCC, operated by Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation.

Explain my Connection


The PacifiCorp service area is part of a larger interconnected electric grid operated by PacifiCorp-East. There are a total of 5 coal-fired power plants on this grid that are connected to mountaintop removal. Following are details on how each is connected to mountaintop removal.




Plants on the PacifiCorp-East grid that do not use mountaintop removal coal directly, but purchase coal from companies that operate mountaintop removal mines in Central Appalachia include:


As part of this feature on the I love Mountains website, you can also view Google Earth for your area to see the effects of mountaintop removal.

I urge readers to go to this website and look around.  There is lots of useful information, including how you can become involved in the project to advocate for stopping the practice of mountaintop removal

See my post with the video on mountaintop removal


Cynthia McKinney’s TV ads on the Issues

Single Payer Health Care

View the rest of Cynthia’s tv ads:
Sustainable Investment instead of Corporate Bailouts
Green Values – Grassroots Democracy, Peace Social Justice, Environmental Wisdom
Green Party Seat At The Table will invite the Public
Constrained by the Two Party Paradigm
Restore Our Constitutional Rights
Rebuild the Economy with Energy Efficient Cars
Bring All The Troops Home
Katrina survivors right of return
Oppose Africom

Shot and edited by Don Debar

Utah’s new and “improved” bus routes and schedules

Yesterday was the first time I experienced the impact of Utah Transit Authority’s “new and improved” bus system, which took effect August 26th.

After walking around West Jordan to run errands (there is no bus route available to do this), I needed to take a bus to the TRAX station from my neighborhood in West Jordan so I could travel the 12 miles north to Salt Lake City.  What I discovered is that there is NO east west running bus in my area to take riders to the train.  The only bus I found was one that runs north south and into  Salt Lake City in a part that is far from my destination.

So I walked.  And walked.  And walked.

It took me one hour from where I was after doing errands to get to a train.  I love to walk, so it wasn’t too much of an imposition, however I was lucky that I was not on a strict time schedule.  What I discovered on my 5 mile walk was that as I meandered through affluent neighborhoods, near big box stores and golf courses, there were plenty of bus stops (for weekday travelers).   But what I then found as I wound myself through less affluent neighborhoods – trailer parks and small bungalows in more low income areas – was that bus stops had been completely eliminated (there were signs on former bus stop signs announcing the elimination of them).


It is even more apparent to me now who the UDOT bus system caters to.  And it ain’t the working folks who work trades or minimum wage jobs and it ain’t those among them who work to keep businesses open on the weekends.

There’s a LOT wrong with this picture.

I’m leaving now on this Sunday to walk to the TRAX station.  This time I have a shorter walk – only about 2 miles since I’m leaving directly from my home.  There is no bus available for me today.

Good thing it’s not raining.  And good thing my legs and feet still work.

New Bike Plan

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced a new bicycle initiative last week.  The plan calls for a bicycle center at the new downtown transit hub, new and improved bike lanes all over SLC, and bike rental and repair at the new transit hub and will be overseen by the SLC bicycle collective.

I am so glad to see this plan, which is being funded by the city, Utah Transit Authority and Utah Department of Transportation.  Now the next step should be to add more space for bicycles on buses and trains!

Light bulbs

whatnow73 has a post on Ontario benning inefficient lightbulbs over on caringconsumer.

Green Reading

Earth Day Reading
by The Green Guide Staff

Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time by David R. Johnston and Kim Master, LEED AP (New Society Publishers, 2004, $29.95). To purchase this book, visit our online book store.


I’ve been dreaming of living in a green home—sleeping on an organic mattress and watching the electric meter run backwards from solar gain—since my days of renting. When I recently became a homeowner, all I wanted to do was infuse my new nest with every eco product I could think of. I became giddy at the thought of VOC-free paints and renewable-material flooring. The good news? Companies are churning out environmentally-friendly products like hotcakes. The bad? Where on earth was I to begin?

David Johnston and Kim Master’s book Green Remodeling was just the right place. Johnston combines his own expertise, stemming from over 30 years in green construction, with Master’s ten-plus years as an environmental and health specialist.

Johnston begins by outlining his personal home renovation in a daily diary of ups, downs and completed success, before providing a room-by-room examination. The book’s final section is jam-packed with valuable information ranging from construction health risks to plumbing and roofing.

Though it’s not a how-to manual, Green Remodeling is an in-depth guide on building construction, exposing energy suckers like antiquated refrigerators and products like vinyl siding whose manufacturing releases dioxins, then divulging a host of healthy alternatives. Want to give your house a face-lift room-by-room? Consult Chapter 6, which breaks down remodeling efforts from the bedroom to the kitchen, including checklists for every nook and cranny. If you’re more interested in exploring topics such as green energy, insulation or plumbing, skip ahead to individual chapters delving into the nuts and bolts of construction.

Whereas some home reno books tend to read like operator’s manuals, Johnston and Master bring a breezy style to the pages, making it not only entertainingly informative, but qualifying it for the bedside table. They take into account the numerous facets in construction, from the emotional wear and tear on homeowners, and the fiscal drain to the enormous resources consumed and refuse created. Not to worry about the last item—85 to 90 percent of construction waste is recyclable, and you’ll find tips on how to dispose.

What tends to be an overwhelmingly chaotic process, making your living environment healthy and green, Johnston and Master simplify through an easy-to-navigate manual, organizing and subdividing topics into concise sections. They devote 20 pages to indoor air quality, covering issues from carbon monoxide to mold and advising how to minimize or eliminate risk. Each page is chockablock with information outlining problems with current building design and how to change for the better.

Some readers may be annoyed that Johnston and Masters leave out products, stores and manufacturer details, but they do include a handy website resource section listing various organizations from non-profits to government agencies, which can steer you in the right direction (The Green Guide included). For the armchair reader, they devote a chapter to finding eco-friendly architects and remodeling contractors to do the dirty work.

If you’ve ever wanted to transform your home into a green getaway, this book will become your best friend. If you think your house could be more sustainable, but not sure how, this book will tell you. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or the neighborhood handyman, you’ll find in it a trove of valuable tips and practical know-how.

—Kate Harris

How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons (Houghton Mifflin, 2007, $27). To purchase this book, visit our online book store.


When he wrote that April is the cruelest month, I can’t help but wonder if T.S. Eliot was into cooking. It’s about this time of year that, despite my inclination for eating seasonally and locally, my favorite farmer’s market begins to bore me. After months of eating potatoes and parsnips, carrots and apples, my enthusiasm for cooking ebbs like a low tide, and I abandon it in silent protest over the lack of color and variety in my produce bin. Most nights in April, I find myself in line at the Chinese take-out down the street, carrying out sacks of artery-clogging sweet-and-sour chicken or over-sauced noodles and berating myself for indirectly funneling profits into the Styrofoam-container industry.

For that very reason, I was happily plucked from the Chinese take-out line and plopped back into my kitchen after reading How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons. Full of creative recipes from a laundry list of notable chefs (Parsons himself is an career food writer and a columnist at the Los Angeles Times), the book had me back in the markets—in April!—seeking out those same crops that had me so bored and whipping up new dishes like roasted beet and orange salad with goat cheese and walnuts and turnip and potato gratin.

Surging interest in locally grown foods has led to a coinciding surge in literature on farm-fresh produce, so a book like Parsons could easily get lost in the shuffle. But How to Pick a Peach is thoughtfully organized and carefully researched, with each chapter focusing on an individual crop or group of crops and detailing its (or their) social and historical background. Particularly helpful for the amateur and professional alike are the chapter conclusions that explain how to choose, store and prepare produce and offer “One Simple Dish” that impatient, bored cooks like myself can tackle with ease. Chapters also contain a subsection on where the featured crop is grown, which segues nicely into regional recipes from across the country, perhaps the book’s most appealing feature. With all the focus on local foods, it’s easy to forget that they aren’t restricted to local recipes. Parson’s recipe for Southern Comfort Soup, one of my favorites, tasted just as good with collard greens hailing from upstate New York as it would have with greens from Georgia, where, he informs us, most collards in American grocery stores are grown.

We don’t all have to buy into Eliot’s lament. Take a page from Parson’s book and inject a little creativity into the cruelest culinary month of your locale. You might just find a way to re-use all those take-out bags.

-Emily Main


How Green Are You?

Test Your Eco IQ

1.  Do you have recycling bins at your house? (my answer=yes)

Good for you! Recycling is probably the easiest thing you can do to go green! It even cuts up 1,000 pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming . Even though you do recycle, you can be even “greener” by choosing products with the least amount of packaging possible and by choosing easily recyclable packaging, like paper or glass; very few municipal recycling programs accept plastics other than those labeled #1 and #2.

2.Have you replaced at least one incandescent bulb in your house with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL)? (my answer=yes)

Good for you! Replacing just one 75-watt incandescent bulb with a 19-watt CFL cuts 75 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year and up to 750 for the life of the bulb, not to mention the money savings on your energy bill.

3.  If you drink takeout coffee or tea, do you bring your own mug or use a disposable cup from the cafe? (my answer=reusable mug)

Bravo! Reusable mugs are healthier for you and for the planet, leaving trees in forests where they belong and keeping non-degradable polystyrene out of landfills.

4.  Which saves more water, washing dishes by hand or using a dishwasher?(my answer=by hand)

No! Surprisingly, hand washing dishes can actually use up to 50 percent more water than a water-saving, energy-efficient dishwasher. The most efficient dishwashers on the market use only 4 gallons of water, but some conventional models can use as much as 14 gallons. If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, look for Energy Star-rated appliances. They use at least 41% less energy and water than federal standards require.  This one I wasn’t sure about since I don’t have an electric dishwasher and hadn’t done my research.

5.  How often do you use green cleaning products? (my answer=whenever I can find them)

That’s a good start. Using green cleaners all the time cuts down on your environmental impact, since conventional cleaners are filled with a host of chemicals that produce harmful byproducts during production and harm aquatic life when they wash down the drain. Green cleaners are also healthier; they have fewer volatile organic compounds that can trigger asthma and other respiratory problems, and rarely do they contain chemicals that can poison you or your children or cause serious skin reactions if spilled.

6.  Which do you prefer: bottled water or tap? (my answer=tap)

Good for you! Tap water meets stricter federal and local standards for chemical contaminants, and drinking tap water helps eliminate the waste associated with single-use plastic bottles, only 10 percent of which are recycled each year.

7.  Have you installed aerators on your kitchen and bathroom faucets? (my answer=yes)

Congratulations! Aerators cut water usage from 5 gallons per minute to 2.75 gallons or less. The most efficient models use only 1 gallon; if yours isn’t a 1 gpm model, replace it and save even more water than you already are.

8.  When you go shopping, which do you choose? Paper or Plastic? (my answer=paper)

Trick question! Neither. Bringing your own bag is the more environmentally responsible choice. In the U.S., petroleum-based plastic bags consume about 12 million barrels of oil annually, and many are not recycled, meaning that they end up in trees and waterways where animals mistake them for food. Paper bags consume four times as much energy to produce as plastic bags and they generate 70 percent more air pollution during manufacture.This WAS trick because “neither” wasn’t an option in the answers!

9.  How do you get to work? (my answer=a little of everything)

You’re off to a good start. The less you drive, the less you pollute. An average 12-mile daily commute generates 2,750 pounds of CO2 annually, so cutting your driving by half would eliminate 1,375 pounds.

10. Do you purchase renewable energy through your power utility? (my answer=yes)

Way to go! It may cost a little more than coal power, but a home powered by green energy cuts down on both greenhouse gas and mercury emissions coming from coal plants but it preserves natural environments from destructive mining.

For more information about issues on the quiz and more, please see:
Recycling Now
Are Compact Fluorescents a Fire Hazard?
Water Saving Appliances PR
Rites of Spring (Cleaning)
Consider Its Lifecyle: Bottled Water