The Environment Division provides legal services to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) covering the subjects of air quality, water quality, drinking water, radiation, solid and hazardous waste, and environmental remediation.
Major cases and workload:
1. Opposition to high level nuclear waste storage facility - Nuclear Regulatory Commission license proceedings - environmental issues.
In support of the Governor’s Office challenge to the Private Fuels Storage Company (PFS) proposal to store high level nuclear waste on the Goshute Indian Reservation, we currently have the equivalent of 2 attorneys plus our paralegal devoted full-time to this effort. In addition, DEQ and the Governor’s Office are funding other attorneys to handle the federal court litigation and other opposition efforts.
Efforts by the Attorney General's Office to stop nuclear waste storage in Utah.
A Nine Year Insight into the PFS Licensing Proceeding Before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (PDF)
2. Natural Resource Damage Claims.
The major ongoing issues are:
a) the Kennecott contamination of a large aquifer on the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley between the large open pit and the Jordan River and cleanup of contamination near the smelter next to the Great Salt Lake.
b) contamination of the Mapleton aquifer and on-site cleanup by Ensign-Bickford, an explosives manufacturer, located at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.
c) other potential natural resource damage claims currently being investigated
3. Air quality/water quality/drinking water/hazardous waste/radiation enforcement cases.
We are currently handling approximately 20 enforcement cases, either in district court or in formal administrative enforcement proceedings before the DEQ regulatory boards.
4. DEQ defense work.
We are defending DEQ in several lawsuits and administrative proceedings on challenges to permit and other agency actions. Actions of note are:
a. Challenges to issuance of air quality permits to the Sevier Power Company near Richfield and to the Intermountain Power Project for Unit 3 of their plant near Delta.
b. Petition for changes in individual wastewater system rules and takings issues.
5. Environmental Crimes
The Utah Attorney General's Office environmental attorneys work with the Investigations Division to prosecute environmental crimes on a state and federal level. This team works in cooperation with the US Attorney's Office and EPA/CID.
Environmental crimes often involve hazardous wastes and other toxic chemicals, which pose extreme risks to the public and harm to the environment. If you know of a person/business whom you suspect is knowingly/negligently committing an environmental crime, please contact the Utah Attorney General's Office Investigation Division:
Lt. Patricia Ishmael
Tel: (801) 281-1211
6. Administrative/Agency Legal Work.
There are five regulatory boards (Utah Air Quality Board, Utah Water Quality Board, Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Board, Utah Drinking Water Board, and Utah Radiation Board) appointed by the Governor that are a part of DEQ. We represent each of those boards and provide legal support to the agency staff.