Somewhat more than 3.2 million people live in Utah — spread out across approximately 82,000 square miles of desert, forest, alpine regions, and surprisingly, a bit of wetlands. Most of the state is desert, with very hot days and very cold nights; about 25% of Utah is temperate forest with both deciduous and coniferous trees, and less than 1% of Utah is a wetland with about 75% of those wetlands located near the Great Salt Lake. On land 10,000 feet above sea level lies the alpine region with short, hardy plants that can survive high wind speeds and extreme cold. Utah mountain peaks, on average, are the tallest in the US with an average elevation — in each of Utah’s counties — 11,222 feet higher than any other state

Utah has not been spared the effects of climate change. Warming about 2°F in the last century climate change is diminishing the flow of water in Utah’s rivers and escalating the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

As the state warms, less precipitation falls as snow, and more snow melts during the winter months. The Utah snowpack has been shrinking since the 1950s, shortening the season for skiing and other forms of winter tourism and recreation as well as altering the way snow melts into the Green and Colorado rivers. As the amount of water from the heat is diminished, the need for it, because of the heat, increases. This has many negative effects on the ecosystems and human populations depending on the rivers.

Those rising temperatures are particularly harmful to agriculture in the state, which uses 80% of its water. In addition to reducing the amount of water flow available through its rivers, the heat increases the amount of water evaporating from the soil, making it harder to irrigate fields and keep livestock. Heat also threatens the health of cows, causing them to eat less, grow more slowly, and produce less milk.

Higher temperatures and resulting drought are also likely to increase the severity, frequency, and extent of wildfires. As of Oct. 4, 2020, with the third driest spring in its history and extreme and exceptional drought across the state,  Utah has seen 294,930 acres burned. Along with burning down towns and ecosystems, wildfire smoke can reduce air quality and increase medical visits for chest pains, respiratory problems, and heart problems.

One of the reddest states in the nation, in 2019 Utah created a long-term comprehensive plan to address climate change. At the request of the state legislature, the Kem C.Gardner Policy Institute produced the “Utah Roadmap: Positive Solutions to Climate and Air Quality” with the intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions affecting both the local air quality and the global climate. The plan includes cutting CO2 emissions statewide 25% below 2005 levels by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. It focuses on a market-based approach to combating climate change, dealing with transportation, infrastructure, housing options, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles. The plan gives special attention to Utahns who live in rural areas. This past October, 2020 more than 100 mayors (including Logan’s Mayor Daines and Salt Lake City’s Mayor Wilson), business, and academic leaders from throughout the state signed Utah’s first Climate and Clean Air Compact committing their support of the Roadmap.

This is a huge shift from the Utah of just a few years ago, when its legislature passed a resolution urging the EPA to “cease its carbon dioxide reduction policies, programs, and regulations until climate data and global warming science are substantiated.” Utah’s change of heart and business-friendly approach have caused it to rise as a model for other red states on the issue of climate change.

Although, as of 2018,  just 11% of Utah’s energy comes from renewable resources, the state holds huge potential for green power generation, especially solar power generation. As Elon Musk said back in 2015, “you could take a corner of Utah and Nevada and power the entire United States with solar power.”

So, although not exactly a green state, it is moving in the right direction. Around two-thirds of Utah’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, down from 81% in 2013 with most of the rest of its energy coming from natural gas. In 2018, it was the 12th-largest coal producing state in the US, the lowest level in 33 years and down by almost half from production a decade earlier. Utah does still account for about 1 in every 100 barrels of crude oil produced in the United States, and 1 of every 9 barrels produced in the Rocky Mountain states. Utah also has the nation’s only operating uranium ore mill, which processes uranium ore from mines in other states, as there has been no active uranium mine production in Utah since late 2012.

The majority of energy consumption in Utah comes from the transportation sector, which accounts for almost one-third of the state’s total, followed closely by the industrial sector at about one-fourth. The residential sector and the commercial sector each account for about one-fifth of the state’s energy consumption, mostly due to energy spent on warming and cooling homes, responding to the hugely varying desert temperatures. Energy consumption per capita in Utah is, nonetheless, below the national average and lower than two-thirds of the states.

Effects of Climate Change and Drought in Utah


Why Republicans can’t get out of their climate bind, even as extreme heat overwhelms the US

By Ella Nilsen 07/30/23
Deadly heatwaves are baking the US. Scientists just reported that July will be the hottest month on record. And now, after years of skepticism and denial in the GOP ranks, a small number of Republicans…
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Solar sprawl is tearing up the Mojave Desert. Is there a better way?

By Sammy Roth 06/27/23
High above the Las Vegas Strip, solar panels blanketed the roof of Mandalay Bay Convention Center — 26,000 of them, rippling across an area larger than 20 football fields.
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Supreme Court rules against Navajo Nation in Colorado River case

By Adam Liptak 06/22/23
The Supreme Court ruled against the Navajo Nation on Thursday in a water rights case, rejecting the tribe’s suit against the federal government in a dispute over access to the drought-depleted Colorado River system.
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How climate change is increasing the unpredictability of Utah’s streams

By David Condos 05/18/23
New research shows that the long-term trend of warmer winters and less snow has made Utah’s streamflow more sporadic. And researchers say Utahns should prepare for it to keep getting worse....
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Utah allocates millions to prepare for flood damage after wet winter

By Sam Metz 05/18/23
As the winter’s record snowpack melts and cascades down from the Rockies, Utah lawmakers on Wednesday set aside millions of dollars to prepare for potentially historic flooding. The state is among the many in the…
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Electrify Commercial and Rocky Mountain Power to install 20 new DC fast-charging stations in Utah

By Robin Whitlock 05/18/23
As a business unit of Electrify America, Electrify Commercial provides customised end-to-end EV charging solutions to businesses, utility companies, fleet owners, travel centers and convenience stores. The new charging stations, owned by Rocky Mountain Power,…
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State school board votes 8-7 to restore climate change to latest science standards

By Marjorie Cortez 05/05/23
Climate change was restored to Utah’s supplemental state standards for science and engineering education by one vote late Thursday night.
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Utah’s suicide pact with the fossil fuel industry

By Stephanie Mencimer 05/05/23
“The whole connection between water and climate change, and conventional energy development and climate change, is not front and center” in Utah, says Brad Udall, a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State…
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Utah company plans to build a 100-megawatt Solar Energy Facility east of Sturgis

By Gary Matthews 05/05/23
A Utah company plans to build a 100-megawatt Solar Energy Facility east of Sturgis, off of Alkali Road.
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Utah State Board of Education considers removing ‘climate change’ from curriculum

By Megan Pickett and Nate Larsen 05/03/23
When the Utah State Board of Education meets on Thursday, May 4, they will have a controversial topic to discuss — whether the term “climate change” is too politically charged to be taught to students.…
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Kuwait, Dugway, Tooele Army Depot and what these places have in common

By Amy Joi 'ODonoghue 04/26/23
Kurt Myers is surrounded by all sorts of computers and monitors. Some of the monitors are the size of a big screen TV, while others crowd multiple desks next to him.
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Utah is paying lawn companies to trade in their noisy, gassy machines

By Erin Alberty 04/19/23
As the grass turns green and flower buds unfurl, it's time to listen for the melodic songs of birds, the buzzing of bees and the gentle flutter of ...
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Utah Communities Moving Forward With Plans For Clean Energy Transition

At the end of 2019, 23 cities and counties in Utah made an ambitious pledge to transition to 100% net renewable energy by the end of the decade.

Climate Positive 2040

Salt Lake City is committed to protecting the public health and safety of its residents, including ensuring access to clean air, clean water and a livable environment.​

Preparing for Climate Change in Utah

Utah has not developed a statewide adaptation plan. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed by the state and localities to help communities prepare for climate change, are highlighted below.

Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing rapidly in response to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. The University recognizes that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and has committed to a…

Crossroads Utah

Utah’s Climate Future.

20 Utah Communities Commit To 100% Renewable Energy Goals

By Jon Reed 12/23/19
Coalville and West Valley City are the latest Utah communities to commit to transitioning to 100% net-renewable energy use by 2030. There are now 20 local governments participating in the statewide effort.  


Utah Solar Panels: Pricing and Incentives

Residential solar panels are quickly growing in popularity in Utah. The state is among the top 10 in the nation for solar capacity, with enough Utah solar panels installed to power 442,889 homes with solar…

Utah State Profile and Energy Estimates

Utah is a state of contrasts, from flat salt desert to rugged canyons, and from mountains soaring more than 13,000 feet above sea level in the northeast to the desert floor 9,000 feet lower in…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Utah

Between 2017 and 2019, Utah experienced one wildfire, one drought, and one severe storm. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

State-by-State: Climate Change in Utah

Utah is vulnerable to increasing heat, melting snowpack, droughts, and wildfires

Utah’s Climate Threats

Explore graphics, interactives and news about Utah's climate threats.

The Utah Climate Action Network Is Ensuring A Collaborative Response To These Questions.

Human civilization continues to emit greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels at record levels, causing global warming and therefore disrupting the entire planetary climate system. In fact, the State of Utah is warming twice as…

Utah Climate Action Network plans as Utah warms at twice global rate

Utah is warming at twice the global rate, and a new climate coalition is forming to stop it.

What Climate Change Means for Utah

Utah’s climate is changing. The state has warmed about two degrees (F) in the last century. Throughout the western United States, heat waves are becoming more common, and snow is melting earlier in spring.

Climate Change In the West: What It Means for Utah Wilderness

Climate change is affecting the health of our public lands. Already we are seeing an overall increase in temperatures, and scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey predict an increase of 4-6 degrees celsius during this…


‘It buys us time’: Great Salt Lake still at high risk of disappearing after epic snow, scientists warn

By Rachel Ramirez   04/16/23  
It was only three months ago that nearly three dozen scientists and conservationists sounded the alarm that the Great Salt Lake in Utah faces “unprecedented danger” – unless the state’s lawmakers fast-tracked “emergency measures” to…
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Climate Change Threatens Utah, Even With the Great Salt Lake Bouncing Back

By Tobias Carroll   04/10/23  
For anyone seeking an example of what climate change at its most surreal can look like, consider the case of the Great Salt Lake. Last year, the saltwater lake in question had alarmingly low levels…
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Ski Utah details challenges of labor, housing, diversity and climate change in Park City’s key industry

By Jay Hamburger   04/09/23  
The president and CEO of Ski Utah, Nathan Rafferty, during a recent public appearance in Park City offered a list of the challenges in the state ski industry. Speaking at a March panel discussion at…
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Utah and California Snowpacks Break All Previous Records–Will Completely Alleviate Droughts

By Andy Corbley   04/06/23  
The desert state of Utah is experiencing “a year to remember” in terms of snowfall, with every single part of the state experiencing 130% more snowpack in the mountains than normal.
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A wet winter won’t stave off the Colorado River’s water cuts

By Joshua Partlow   04/03/23  
The abundant snow in the Rocky Mountains this year has been a welcome relief, but is not enough to overcome two decades of drought that has pushed major reservoirs along the Colorado River down to…
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Why is Rocky Mountain Power closing its Utah coal plants? Here’s what we know.

By Robert Gehrke and Tim Fitzpatrick   04/01/23  
Rocky Mountain Power announced Friday that it plans to shut down its last two remaining coal-fired power plants in Utah. Here is a quick overview of what it means and what comes next.
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Is a healthy environment a ‘fundamental right’? Utah Supreme Court to hear climate case

By Kaitlyn Bancroft   03/17/23  
Natalie R. v. State of Utah was filed by Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit public interest law firm that provides campaign-based legal services to youths seeking to "secure their legal rights to a safe climate,"…
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Massive Energy Storage Projects Planned For Nevada & Wyoming

By Tina Casey   03/09/23  
Energy storage is the new black, and a growing number of US states don’t want to be caught without it. That includes the state of Utah, which is the proud home of the pumped hydro…
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Great Salt Lake Gets Some Help From Utah Legislature, But Is It Enough?

By Sam Ribakoff   03/06/23  
At the beginning of the year, researchers from Brigham Young University published a report saying the Great Salt Lake is in significant danger of drying up and causing catastrophic damage to wildlife and Utahns. Now…
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Youth activists want to see more out of Utah on climate and the Great Salt Lake

By Andrew Christiansen   03/06/23  
The biggest themes of a climate strike held on the steps of the Utah State Capitol as lawmakers were finishing their work was a call to end fossil financing, improve Utah’s air quality and prevent…
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Utah cities are sticking with their nuclear power plan after a hefty price jump

By Tim Fitzpatrick   03/03/23  
ome Utah cities are willing to dig deeper to become nuclear-powered. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems recently updated the 27 entities pursuing construction of several small nuclear power generators in Idaho, and the $58-per megawatt…
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Will Utah’s Great Salt Lake disappear?

By Lee Cowan   02/26/23  
Utah's Great Salt Lake doesn't look so "great" these days. This place where tourists once bobbed up and down like corks in water far saltier than the ocean is now quite literally turning to dust.…
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Arizona, Utah lawmakers look to hamper clean energy development

By Jonathan P. Thompson   02/20/23  
CLEAN ENERGY: Arizona lawmakers advance a bill that would prohibit solar or wind development on state or federal land already leased for grazing unless the energy developer compensates the leaseholder. (Arizona Daily Star)
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‘Not much time left’: Salt Lake City’s mayor on the Great Lake drying up

By Oliver Milman   02/18/23  
Erin Mendenhall was once an environmental activist, campaigning for clean air. Now, in a fitting but grim twist, she is the mayor of a fast-growing US city that faces being enveloped by a huge toxic…
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Westerners support 100% clean energy, less oil drilling — even in red states

By Sammy Roth   02/16/23  
Across the American West, voters strongly support transitioning to 100% clean energy, protecting the region’s public lands from oil and gas drilling and saving water by paying farmers to leave their fields dry.
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CCL Utah event discusses Great Salt Lake, state climate initiatives

By Katie Zakrzewski   02/15/23  
Recent CCL awareness campaigns highlighting the need for the protection of the Great Salt Lake have spurred an influx of new volunteers to join CCL Utah. Utah State Coordinator Tom Moyer sprang into action to…
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BLM announces decision for Fervo Energy, Cape Modern Geothermal Exploration Project

The Bureau of Land Management has authorized Escalante Desert Resources LLC, a subsidiary of Fervo Energy, to proceed with exploration activities on geothermal leases located on public lands managed by the BLM. The purpose of…
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Over a dozen bills to address air quality in Utah are being run this session

By Kailey Gilbert   02/09/23  
Air quality is an issue across Utah. Even areas in the southern part of the state are becoming plagued with the effects of industrialization, vehicle exhaust and overall declining air quality, Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt…
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The “Law of the River” at the heart of the Colorado River crisis

By Hayley Smith and Ian James   02/03/23  
It’s a crisis nearly 100 years in the making: Seven states — all reliant on a single mighty river as a vital source of water — failed to reach an agreement this week on how…
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As the Colorado River shrinks, Washington prepares to spread the pain

By Christopher Flavelle   01/27/23  
The seven states that rely on the river for water are not expected to reach a deal on cuts. It appears the Biden administration will have to impose reductions.
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In California’s Imperial Valley, farmers brace for a future with less Colorado River water

By Ian James   01/27/23  
Just north of the California-Mexico border, the All-American Canal cuts across 80 miles of barren, dune-swept desert. Up to 200 feet wide and 20 feet deep, the canal delivers the single largest share of Colorado…
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The Colorado River is overused and shrinking. Inside the crisis transforming the Southwest

By Ian James and Molly Hennessy-Fiske   01/26/23  
The Colorado River begins as melting snow, trickling from forested peaks and coursing in streams that gather in the meadows and valleys of the Rocky Mountains. Like arteries, its major tributaries take shape across Colorado,…
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A river guide’s view of Lake Powell’s decline and the depths of the Colorado River crisis

By Ian James   01/26/23  
Muddy water whizzed past as John Weisheit steered a motorboat upstream in the Colorado River. He revved the engine as the boat sped around a bend and up a riffle.
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Utah’s West Desert could hold a decade’s worth of indium

By Sean Higgins   11/14/22  
Utah’s West Desert is home to the only recognized deposit of indium in the United States. The little-known metal is used in everyday devices like smartphones and solar panels. The Utah Geological Survey was recently…
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Utah company aims to make waves creating lithium-ion batteries

By Ashtyn Asay   11/13/22  
With the electric vehicle market booming, one Utah County company is looking to help the U.S. gain a foothold in the lithium-ion battery business.
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The Fight Over The Colorado River’s Water Is A Symbol Of The Larger Climate Crisis

By Alejandro De La Garza   08/29/22  
There’s something familiar about the high stakes water use drama playing out in the U.S. Southwest. The mighty Colorado River serves as an economic artery of the region, powering massive hydroelectric dams and supplying water…
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In America’s fastest-growing metro, a rising fear water will run out

By Karin Brulliard   08/15/22  
A century after her grandfather arrived to eke a living out of the hot, red dirt here, Susan Savage still structures her life around the groundwater. Twice daily, she checks the well her family’s pasturelands,…
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A Painful Deadline Nears as Colorado River Reservoirs Run Critically Low

By Henry Fountain   07/21/22  
States in the Colorado River basin are scrambling to propose steep cuts in the water they’ll use from the river next year, in response to a call by the federal government for immediate, drastic efforts…
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Utah’s Great Salt Lake is drying out, threatening ecological, economic disaster

By Nathan Frandino   07/14/22  
Utah's Great Salt Lake dropped to its lowest recorded level this month amid a two-decade drought, a grim milestone as researchers and politicians point to grave threats to wildlife and people along its receding shores.
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DOE closes on $504M loan guarantee for Utah hydrogen storage project with 150 GWh seasonal capacity

By Ethan Howland   06/09/22  
The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday it has closed on a $504.4 million loan guarantee for a “green” hydrogen storage project in Utah that will initially be able to store up to 150 GWh…
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As the Great Salt Lake dries up, Utah faces an ‘environmental nuclear bomb’

By Christopher Flavelle   06/07/22  
Climate change and rapid population growth are shrinking the lake, creating a bowl of toxic dust that could poison the air around Salt Lake City.
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U.S. approves major transmission line from Wyoming to Utah

By Nichola Groom   05/27/22  
The Biden administration on Thursday gave final approval to a 416-mile electric transmission line that will help connect more wind and solar energy to the Western U.S. grid.
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This tiny Utah town could shape the West’s energy future

By Sammy Roth   05/19/22  
Five days into our Western energy road trip, photographer Rob Gauthier and I drove late into the night across Utah, following the setting sun as it bathed the red-rock cliffs and snow-starved Wasatch Mountains in…
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The Colorado River is in crisis, and it’s getting worse every day

By Erin Patrick O'Connor   05/14/22  
It is a powerhouse: a 1,450-mile waterway that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, serving 40 million people in seven U.S. states, 30 federally recognized tribes and Mexico. It hydrates 5…
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Far from Lake Powell, drought punishes another Western dam

By Sammy Roth   05/12/22  
Water is flowing through two of three hydropower turbines in a blockish building at the base of Flaming Gorge Dam, so I can feel the floor buzzing — vibrations pulsating through my body — as…
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An oil train is set to destroy pristine Utah mountains. Why won’t Biden stop it?

By Stephanie Mencimer   05/07/22  
In the journal from his legendary 1869 expedition down the Colorado River, explorer John Wesley Powell called the remote Tavaputs Plateau in Eastern Utah “one of the stupendous features of this country.” The one-armed Civil…
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Utah’s Great Salt Lake Expected to Hit Record Low Levels Again This Year (PHOTOS)

By Nicole Bonaccorso   05/06/22  
Great Salt Lake in Utah is projected to drop to a new record low this year, after hitting a record low last year. Political leaders are feeling the pressure to do what they can to…
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Utah’s Great Salt Lake Expected to Hit Record Low Levels Again This Year (PHOTOS)

By Nicole Bonaccorso   05/06/22  
Great Salt Lake in Utah is projected to drop to a new record low this year, after hitting a record low last year. Political leaders are feeling the pressure to do what they can to…
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As drought crisis deepens, government will release less water from Colorado River reservoir

By Ian James   05/03/22  
After years of severe drought compounded by climate change, the water level in Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir on the Colorado River, has dropped to just 24% of full capacity and is continuing to decline…
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As Utah’s drought persists, clean energy advocates say it’s time to power down water-guzzling coal plants

By Leia Larsen   05/01/22  
Utah is under yet another drought emergency declaration, with farmers facing more shortages and homeowners bracing for another season of restrictions. As the West faces a drier future fueled by climate change, some green technology…
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Ski Utah to Combat Climate Change by Becoming Climate Neutral Certified

By Aunika Skogen   04/29/22  
If there’s one thing that’s instrumental to the ski industry it’s snow. After this past season, it’s no secret that many mountainous regions have experienced warmer weather and less snow. In an effort to combat…
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BLM Utah leases eight parcels in geothermal lease sale

By Carlo Cariaga   04/29/22  
The geothermal lease sale was held on 12 April 2022 through a purely online platform as we reported. An additional three parcels, roughly 9,791 acres, in Fillmore and Millard counties have been leased by non-competitive…
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Plan to fill giant Utah caves with hydrogen gets $504M federal boost

By Tim Fitzpatrick   04/29/22  
The U.S. Department of Energy has given conditional approval for a half-billion-dollar loan to a project to generate hydrogen from clean sources and pump it into two caves as tall as the Empire State Building…
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EPA plan would force Utah, Wyoming, Nevada and California to cut harmful air emissions drifting into Colorado

By Noelle Phillips   04/24/22  
The federal agency estimates that forcing those states to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at power plants and industrial sites would, by 2026, improve the health of more than a million Americans who suffer from asthma,…
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Why Cox got fired up over fossil fuel development and climate change

By Amy Joi O' Donoghue   04/22/22  
Gov. Spencer Cox defended supporting new oil and gas leases slated to be offered on federal public lands in Utah this summer, even as the state is grappling with the effects of an unprecedented drought…
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Shrinking glaciers and melting ice: Mountain guides have a front-row seat to winter’s woes

By Kyle Dunphey   04/16/22  
“Take the glaciers in the Himalayas as an example,” said Haugen, whose 20-year guiding resumé includes iconic mountains like Everest, Denali and even Antarctica’s Vinson Massif. “It’s a fact that those glaciers are disappearing, and…
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Lake Powell in Utah hits historic low, raising hydropower concerns

By Sam Metz & Others   03/17/22  
Lake Powell’s fall to below 3,525 feet (1,075 meters) puts it at its lowest level since the lake filled after the federal government dammed the Colorado River at Glen Canyon more than a half-century ago…
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Lake Powell Is in Big Trouble

By Molly Taft   03/09/22  
Lake Powell, on the border of Utah and Arizona, is a crucial reservoir along the Colorado River, part of a system that supplies water for 40 million people in multiple states across the West. As…
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Utah advocates push for US energy independence through renewable energy

By Lena Takada   03/02/22  
“We’re seeing higher oil and gas prices and these are exasperated now by Putin’s actions,” said Sarah Wright, the Executive Director of Utah Clean Energy. “That really underscores the need to get off of oil…
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Do you wish Utah utilities used more solar energy? Here’s what’s holding us back.

By Luke Peterson   01/22/22  
Nielsen has experienced his share of economic hardship over the years, working multiple jobs to support his family of five. For the shift to renewable energy finance was promising, but not easy.
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