Last month, we celebrated the opening of the Harrison Community Garden with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Council Member Darin Mano, Wasatch Community Gardens, and the Salt Lake City Public Lands Department. Located along 700 East at Harrison Avenue, just south of Liberty Park, the newest addition to Salt Lake City’s family of community gardens provides plots for as many as 50 gardeners to grow vegetables.
This is the eighth active garden in Salt Lake City boundaries established under our Green City Growers program, which identifies vacant or under-utilized City property with access to a water line and other conditions that support a successful and sustainable community garden. The City partners with local non-profit Wasatch Community Gardens to manage and run the gardens on Salt Lake City property through this program.
Every community garden is a labor of love, but the Harrison Garden overcame multiple obstacles to ultimately receive funding from the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to make it a reality. (Pssst… community applications are due Sept. 30, 2022 for the next round of CIP funding).
Community gardens are more than just for the growers!
The EPA provides support and research to protect and improve public and environmental health, as well as enforces and regulates environmental protections. Region 8 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montano, North Dakota and South Dakota, and 28 Tribal Nations.
KC Becker, the current Region 8 administrator, has 18 years of experience as a public servant for both federal and state organizations. Prior to being appointed as the Region 8 administrator, KC served in the Colorado State Legislature for 4 terms, spending two years as House Majority Leader and two years as the Speaker of the House – at the time, one of only seven female speakers in the United States.
The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local sustainability movers and shakers to hear about their/our concerns surrounding environmental issues in Utah and how the EPA can help!
Earlier in the day, she met with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, learned about Salt Lake City’s unique environmental projects and issues, and shared EPA’s priorities. Administrator Becker also spent some of her time in Utah meeting with the State Department of Environmental Quality.
The EPA is currently focusing on supporting initiatives it has funding for through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill- specifically looking at the redevelopment of brownfields, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, lead pipes, and cleaning up Superfund sites.
Administrator Becker spoke about the EPA’s mission to center environmental justice in all aspects of its work; building stronger relationships with environmental justice groups, community groups, and other non-governmental organizations; and ensuring that all decisions are science-based and focusing on public health outcomes.
Representatives from local groups highlighted their desire for EPA’s support or advice on issues related to air quality, the recent Inland Port developments, the health of the Great Salt Lake, water quality and access, uranium waste in southern Utah, and funding opportunities for the many goals and initiatives of the groups attending.
Overall, the meeting was invigorating and inspiring. Administrator Becker left us with much to do and the support (within her ability) of our regional EPA leaders.
September 26th to October 2nd marks the 5th annual Utah Climate Week! In Utah, we’ve experienced extreme heat, drought, and smoke from nearby wildfires all summer. Climate Week is an opportunity to work with local leaders to identify the impacts of climate change locally, and collaborate on solutions to ensure an equitable and resilient future for all Utahns.
Climate Week is organized by the Utah Climate Action Network, consists of local governments, non-profits, faith based organizations, businesses, and individuals who are working to build a more sustainable community. Each year, Climate Week gives us a chance to connect with each other and find solutions to the threat of climate change.
We need everyone’s help to Act on Climate in Utah and around the globe. There are many ways to take action, including investing in solar panels at your home, reducing your meat consumption, being mindful about energy use around the house, and finding ways to improve air quality like taking public transit or biking rather than driving.
Whether you’re a seasoned environmental advocate or you’re just starting out, Utah Climate Week is a chance to learn about the unique issues Utah faces as human caused climate change impacts our health, access to food, livelihoods, and communities. Participating in Utah Climate Week can help you find ways to Act On Climate all year.
Despite the challenges of the past year, Salt Lake City and nearly two dozen other communities in Utah have made progress on the path to achieving community-wide net-100% renewable electricity. Shifting our communities to renewable electricity will significantly reduce Utah’s carbon footprint, and help lower emissions.
Salt Lake City is committed to meeting our Climate Positive goals on the community and municipal level. Prior to 2019, Rocky Mountain Power, Utah’s largest investor-owned utility, had made renewable energy accessible to residents in Utah through the Blue Sky program and the Subscriber Solar program.
A total of 23 communities in Utah, including Salt Lake City, became eligible to move forward with the program in December 2019. But that was only the beginning! 2021 will be a critical year for this ambitious project, and the Utah 100 Communities have been working hard to continue to make progress. Read on for more details!
The Utah 100 Communities
With nearly two dozen Utah communities, the Utah 100 Communities are preparing to bring renewable electricity to residents and businesses across the state. At this stage, 21 communities are engaged in creating a governance agreement that will help guide important decisions as the program moves forward.
You might ask: Why are all of these communities working together? Can’t they each have their own program? Well, HB 411 stipulates that communities must work together on a joint agreement with each other, a joint filing with Rocky Mountain Power to Utah state regulators (the Public Service Commission), and ultimately on signing agreements to purchase power from the same renewable energy projects. In the end, this makes for a stronger program with a bigger impact. (See the timeline here). That’s why SLCgreen and our partner communities have been so hard at work over the last year!
And that’s why we were excited to welcome the public to our first discussion of our progress thus far.
In February 2021, the Utah 100 Communities gathered for public discussions related to the governance agreement and other necessary steps to move forward. The governance subgroup presented an agreement structure that will help make sure every community has a voice in important decisions and that costs are shared fairly.
If you missed the meeting, don’t worry: Check out the YouTube recording of the Utah 100 Community’s Local Governments Meeting below:
Sustainability encompasses both environmental action and efforts to build just and equitable communities. Indeed, climate change and pollution disproportionately affect people of color around the world. Therefore, the work of environmental justice is directly tied to equity and social justice.
The connections between sustainability and equity have often gone unnoticed or even been rejected. Nevertheless, the links between systemic racism and environmental injustice are undeniable.
Better understanding these links can help us all work towards building a more equitable and sustainable society. We’ve been delving even deeper into this work and these connections in the last few weeks and wanted to share what we’re reading and learning. Here are some resources we’ve found helpful:
PBS Utah put together this short conversational series How to Talk to Kids about Race, featuring several people from our SLC community you might recognize.
Somini Segupta wrote an expansive guide entitled “Read Up on the Links between Racism and the Environment“ for the New York Times. The reading guide includes everything from hard science to sci-fi, and provides a broad platform for understanding racial injustice in the context of climate.
You can also check out a new website co-founded by environmentalists Leah Thomas, Diandra Esparza and Sabs Katz, Intersectional Environmentalist. The site provides information from environmentalists in different communities including Latinx and U.S. Indigenous Communities– communities which have also continued to fight oppression and environmental racism. Intersectional Environmentalist provides extensive reading lists to understand all of the intersections of environmental work. Founder Leah Thomas’ writing was recently featured in Vogue, where she links her work in environmental policy to anti-racism.
From September 29th through October 5th, Utah is celebrating the 3rd Annual Utah Climate Week.
Organized by Utah Climate Action Network, Utah Climate Week brings government, non-profits, academic institutions, faith-based organizations, businesses, and individuals together to address the impact of climate change in our communities. Utah Climate Week highlights the importance of collaborative climate action towards long-term resilience.
With workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, and local restaurant participation, Utah Climate Week 2019 emphasizes the impact of climate change on Utah and provides many opportunities to share ideas to address the challenges.
Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!
By Ardyn Ford, SLCgreen intern
Hunger. It is desperate and overpowering. Everyone has experienced it, but for some, it is extreme and long-term. Weeks go by with a deep, gnawing sensation inside, a pain so fierce that it almost feels alive.
This is a reality for more than 1 in 9 Utahns.
Food insecurity occurs when people cannot afford to buy enough food. It has significant impacts on productivity, happiness, and health, and because it impacts low-income families and individuals, it is often accompanied by threats to other basic needs such as shelter and clothing.
We’re in the final two weeks of Utah’s legislative session, which means we’re in for a wild ride full of twists, turns, and surprises until 11:59 pm on March 8.
SB 136: High Fees on Electric Vehicles and Transit Overhaul
SLCgreen and the Mayor’s Office are following many of the air quality-related bills. In particular, as we alerted you to recently, we are concerned about the high proposed registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles in SB0136 (though we support the funding mechanisms for more transit).
There have been a number of changes and attempted substitutions with this bill. Unfortunately, as of February 28, the fees for all-electric vehicles remain at $194/year. The fee structure also imposes changes for hybrid electric ($92/year) and plug-in hybrid vehicles ($124/year). Fees are going up on all vehicles. Standard gasoline vehicles will now pay $72/year.
However, the singling-out of clean vehicles is troubling. For those of us who care about clean air, the proposed EV fees are a significant set-back, especially coming the year after the state tax credit for electric vehicles was also rolled back.
It is rapidly making its way through the session and, as of February 13, will be heard by the full Senate in the coming days, followed by the House of Representatives.
Overall, we support the bill because of the many good things it would do for funding public transit and road improvements. You can read more via the Salt Lake Tribune.
However, the bill also proposes significant increases in the annual vehicle registration fees for all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, which are troubling.
We encourage you to learn about the bill and contact your elected officials if you’re concerned about the high fees proposed on electric vehicles– a stymie to clearing the air– even though the bill offers other positive changes.
For an all-electric vehicle, your annual registration fee would increase from $44 to $194.
For a hybrid, the fee would jump from $44 to $65. For all other vehicles, the fees remain at $44.
It is only electric vehicles that are being targeted for annual increases.Read more
We’re in the middle of Climate Week in Utah! Our events have been a great success so far and we are looking forward to the rest of the week’s activities.
Today we want to focus on what you can do to combat climate change. Of course, national and international policies make a huge difference in how many emissions global society ultimately cuts in the coming years.
Misinformation on climate change is all-too-prevalent. Be informed. Check multiple sources focusing on articles which cite and list scientific studies. Here is a sample of some reputable sites, documentaries, and books: