Utah Valley’s Independent

Citizen Environmental Organization


responsible stewardship for

healthy families and a healthy environment

 

copyright © 2019 UVEF - All Rights Reserved

2019 Environmental Survey

of 22 Utah Valley Area Communities


Full Introduction to the Survey



What is most striking about the Utah Valley Earth Forum’s 2019 survey of all 21 cities and towns in Utah Valley plus Eagle Mountain is how far many local communities have progressed in recent years in their efforts to protect and improve the environment, and hence the health and well-being of residents.  And what makes it more newsworthy is that this progress in caring for the environment is taking place in what is commonly thought of as a very conservative county in a very conservative state.  But why would taking care of the environment on which one’s health and well being depends be seen as “political,” as being liberal, as being left wing?  Taking care of our common home should be a common goal of us all.


How can the significant progress that is being made be explained?  The improvement in efforts for environmental health maybe due in large measure to an overall increase in public awareness of the threat to our health, our economy and to the health of the planet caused by our own activity, including what we are doing to the air, the water, the land and even the climate.  More about this below, but before we congratulate ourselves too much for the progress, we need to acknowledge that we all still have a long way to go as the climate crisis worsens and continues to grow, threatening both Utah and the planet. 


The Utah Valley Earth Forum (UVEF.org), the valley’s premiere independent, all-volunteer, citizen environmental organization since 2006, can now report the results of its 7th annual Environmental Survey.  The UVEF survey may well be the only extensive regional environmental survey of a large number of cities and towns in the nation.


Begun in 2012, the survey has a number of objectives, all with the overarching purpose of improving the environment in Utah Valley, and by extension, Utah, the nation and the planet.  First, the survey serves as an inventory of what our communities say they are doing to be helpful.  Second, the survey shares that information with the public, enabling people to make informed decisions about the kind of community they value.  Third, the survey is meant to help educate, inform and inspire communities to elevate their stewardship of the environment.  Lastly, the survey gives recognition for good, responsible stewardship by our cities and towns.


The survey focuses on many different policies and practices cities and towns can implement to help improve environmental, human and economic health.  Naturally, a town’s size and resources will affect how it can help.  A small town with few resources will not be able to do as much quantitatively as a larger city.  But it’s not so much a matter of quantity as it is quality.  If a small town implements a serious “town-wide policy” to do whatever it can to be a better steward of the environment, that counts for a great deal.


This year’s response to the survey was very gratifying to its author, the Utah Valley Earth Forum.  Last year, 10 communities completed the survey.  This year the number increased by 40% to 14, representing nearly 80% of the valley area population.  We included previous survey responses from the cities that participated in past years, but did not return the survey this year.  All told, every city and town in Utah Valley (plus Eagle Mountain), except one, have their responses indicated in the 2019 survey (see attached survey).


The UVEF, as the author of the survey, is especially impressed by those cities and towns that have implemented the survey’s very first suggestion/recommendation: to have a designated an official environmental advisor — a person, office or equivalent — to steer the community in being a responsible steward of the environment.  Five Utah Valley communities say they have done this: Cedar Hills, Lehi, Orem, Provo and Woodland Hills.  Our hat is off to you!


The survey raises a number of important questions.  Science tells us that the wide spread heavy use of carbon energy, a fair amount of which is mined in Utah, is fueling global warming and the resulting growing and serious climate crisis.  In Utah, as temperatures rise, that leads to more harmful wildfires, droughts, dust storms, habitat destruction, sever weather events and diminished snow pack, among other things, which in turn damage the physical and economic health of our people and our state.  Why then do no communities in our Utah Valley region have as an objective to eventually become 100% free from the damage being done to the planet by the greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels we use such as coal, oil and gas?  Is it seen as being impractical or too “political?”  If so, that is unfortunate.  Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights, Coalville, Park City and Moab all have set specific targets for achieving 100% renewable energy. 


Other questions raised by the survey include why no communities are banning single use plastic bags and other throw-away items that waste resources and energy, and which pollute our beautiful landscapes with litter?  And why does only one city, Provo, indicate that it’s firmly committed to steadily replacing fossil fuel energy with clean, safe renewable energy?  Why do only three communities have true net-metering to compensate residential rooftop solar users one-to-one for the clean power they produce?  Why has only one community, Orem, outlawed “rolling coal” and diesel “power chips,” both of which pollute the air we breathe?  Why does only one community, Springville, say it has significantly reduced its “carbon footprint” over the past 5 years?  Why do no valley communities apparently have anti-idling ordinances in place to reduce harmful air pollution, especially around schools?  And why does only one community, again Springville, have a “green purchase” policy in which a product’s environmental effects, including waste generation, are fully considered when buying items for city use?


The 2019 survey acknowledges that no city or town (or person for that matter) is a perfect steward.  We all can and should do better.  This is the main reason for the UVEF’s annual environmental survey.  It points out where we’re doing some really helpful actions and policies, and where there is room to encourage significant improvement.


The results of the survey will be in two forms; a report describing some of the particularly helpful things cities and towns are doing and an overall matrix graph indicating what the communities say they are doing to help the environment.  That matrix is now available to view and download at Survey2019.UVEF.org.


The annual UVEF Environmental Survey of 22 communities is only one of the important activities and actions of the Utah Valley Earth Forum.  As a no-profit public interest organization, formed in 2001 and whose mission is to advance good, responsible environmental stewardship, the UVEF (UVEF.org) also hosts bi-monthly educational forums at the Orem Public Library; hosts regional environmental events; informs the public on environmental matters via its email list, web site and Facebook page; offers a rooftop solar program; recognizes achievement in good stewardship; collaborates with sister environmental organizations and takes actions to preserve, protect and improve the health of the environment, Utahns, Utah Valley, Utah Lake, Utah and the planet.



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Click HERE to view and download the entire 4 page Table.