As the election nears, the UPHE Board wants to remind all of you of  how the election may impact UPHE’s core issues.  While cannot endorse specific candidates,  obviously we encourage you to vote for candidates nationally, statewide and locally who will give environmental and public health protection priority.   We hope you will think of these specific considerations:
Voter’s Guide
If you want clean air and a livable environment
the political power of corporations and
billionaires must be curtailed
In Utah, clean air vs. industry are literally David vs. Goliath battles.  Powerful corporations like Rio Tinto can bury the truth–and any politicians who oppose them–under an avalanche of propaganda and PR, driving public sentiment and public policy in their favor.  Perhaps even more insidious, through their donations, corporations are influencing research and buying the silence of universities and non-profits because both have become more desperate for money as government funds have dried up.
As you know, UPHE is leading the fight to take industry to court and hold them accountable to the community for their pollution.  While the media has largely been supportive of our causes, the courts and the law are our real firewall.   Please remember the power of politicians to make or influence judicial appointments and the profound affect that can have on the outcomes of court cases like those that UPHE is involved in.  Furthermore, electing those politicians that recognize how devastating corporate and plutocratic money have become in perverting our democracy and eroding the public interest is critical to our ultimate success in protecting your health.
We cannot claim to believe in science and not give
the climate crisis top priority in public policy
UPHE believes in the science that overwhelmingly indicates the climate crisis is real and represents the greatest threat to public health, our economy and our future.  The Western US is particularly vulnerable to predicted increases in temperature and drought conditions.  While the impact of Hurricane Sandy is getting all the attention right now, probably the greatest climate/weather related impact on the US this year will be the unprecedented drought that severely reduced agricultural yields and increasingly imperils water resources in much of the country.   Neither political party have been strong advocates for reducing fossil fuel dependency, but those candidates who tie Utah’s economic hopes to more and more “drilling”, state control of federal land to further increase fossil fuel extraction,  and believe that Utah should exploit  every carbon deposit in the state, we view as a particularly serious threat to our future.Our nationwide agricultural system is often overlooked for its contribution to our total greenhouse gas emissions (probably about 20%).  Because of the central role that genetically modified crops play in this dysfunctional system, the ballot initiative in California that would require labeling of GMO food would be a critical first step in reducing our greenhouse gases and improving the safety and quality of what you eat.  Please call your friends and family in California and ask them to vote for Prop. 37.


If you want clean air we need a strong EPA

UPHE believe strongly in preserving the current role of the EPA and the Clean Air Act that requires regular revisions of the national air quality standards (NAAQS) and does not allow “economic” considerations to override public health protection.  Nonetheless, studies show that less pollution is always an economic stimulus, not a liability.  Over the last several years UPHE has had an opportunity to work with the EPA, including filing legal briefs in defense of the EPA’s attempt to hold Utah accountable for complying with the NAAQS.  Under Obama’s administration we observed a change in the EPA in the direction of more aggressive defense of the NAAQS.  While we are disappointed in a few decisions the EPA has made to delay implementation of some new standards, ozone in particular, overall the EPA under this administration has improved its profile in holding Utah’s state agencies to those standards.  The current EPA will likely make standards more strict for PM2.5 after the election, which would have a significant impact on the Wasatch Front.  The election of candidates who speak of loosening regulations or rolling back those standards would be a major set back to our efforts.


Preservation of the Wasatch Mountains is
critical for protecting our watershed

The role of the Wasatch Mountains as critical watershed–think of it as our “water bank”–for the Wasatch Front will only be magnified as the climate warms, our snow pack shrinks and our water resources diminish.  A deciduous forest holds 14 times more water than an open field.  Water pollution is just as important as air pollution.  More development through Skilink, ski resort expansion, or housing development will degrade our water quality.  The increase in contamination from “urbanization” of the mountains cannot be compensated for by ramping up water treatment because many contaminants are not removed by water treatment.


The Las Vegas/ Snake Valley Water Grab would likely
be the greatest Utah environmental catastrophe
after the climate crisis itself

Gov. Herbert still seems inclined to sign an agreement with Nevada that, regardless of whether it was a “fair” split, would ultimately lead to the draining of the massive aquifers under central Nevada and western Utah, turning the the Great Basin Desert into another Sahara Desert and there is big difference.  Dust from the Sahara reaches all the way around the globe, especially to Europe and Asia.  The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s claim that dewatering an area the size of Vermont, upwind of the Wasatch Front won’t create a dust nightmare for us is brazen dishonesty.  Utah needs elected officials who will fight Nevada every inch of the way to make sure this doesn’t happen.


Our transportation model must change

To a large extent the Wasatch Front is making the same mistakes that virtually everyone recognizes Los Angeles made, degenerating into urban sprawl and automobile dependency.  With a population expected to increase significantly for several decades, improving or even maintaining existing air quality will be virtually impossible unless we start electing state and local officials willing to take money away from UDOT and give it to mass transit and alternative means of transportation.

Please keep these issues in mind when you vote.  And if you have not yet donated to our legal defense fund to fight the expansion of the Tesoro refinery, please do so
either at our website,, or send a check to:

795 18th Av.
SLC, UT 84103

Written on December 13th, 2011

Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. is copyright protected. Design & implementation by Clayhaus Consulting.

Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment