Jon Kovash

News Correspondent - Moab

Originally from Wyoming, Jon Kovash has practiced journalism throughout the intermountain west. He was editor of the student paper at Denver’s Metropolitan College and an early editor at the Aspen Daily News. He served as KOTO/Telluride’s news director for fifteen years, during which time he developed and produced Thin Air, an award-winning regional radio news magazine that ran on 20 community stations in the Four Corners states. In Utah his reports have been featured on KUER/SLC and KZMU/Moab. Kovash is a senior correspondent for Mountain Gazette and plays alto sax in “Moab’s largest garage band."

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Utah Environment
1:45 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Federal Agencies Join With Watchdog Group To Scrutinize Pipeline

Ozone concentration in Southern Utah National Parks has some citizens worried about the construction of a new gas pipeline.

The growing oil field, along the entrance to the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands, became more controversial when citizens learned that Moab city water is being used for drilling, and then a well leaked oil all the way to the Green River. Now a new network of pipelines and a gas compressor plant have sparked a citizen watchdog group that has raised safety and environmental concerns. I talked to Bill Love, a member of the Canyon Country Coalition for Pipeline Safety.  

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Utah Environment
5:59 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Protestors Picket Moab BLM Over Oil And Gas Field

Protestors gather in Moab BLM parking lot.
Jon Kovash Utah Public Radio

A controversial oil and gas field along the approach to Dead Horse Point and Island in the Sky is getting more controversial. On Wednesday, about 30 protestors assembled with signs at the Moab’s BLM parking lot.

“We don’t want their oil and gas revenue money. And the only way we’re going to stop them is to continue that pressure is to be as vocal as we possibly can to anyone who is willing to listen,” one protestor said.

“And to go forth to the city council and the BLM and say wait a minute, what the hell’s going on?” another protestor said.

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Utah Environment
2:52 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Tap Water For Oilfield Drilling Becomes An Issue In Moab

Many towns in Colorado, and this one in Michigan, sell water to frackers right out of the hydrant.

Due to citizen complaints, Heila Ershadi, a member of the Moab City Council, became aware that Moab’s two public water systems have been selling millions of gallons of culinary water to operators of oilfield tanker trucks.  

“Someone noticed the number of large trucks that were traveling down 500 West from a city operated station where there’s a filling station, and lots of trucks driving through this residential area. The concerns I have heard residents raise is that it’s too many trucks and that they drive quickly and recklessly down residential roads,”Ershadi said.

Moab has seen a drilling boom in the last two years, and many more wells are planned. The water trucks, along with tandem dump trucks full of drilling sand, are also creating dramatic new traffic on local highways that access Canyonlands. Moab is just one of scores of towns across the West where city water is being sold for industrial uses, including drilling and fracking, and cities sometimes even drill new wells to supply the water. The driller of nine active oil and gas wells near Island in the Sky says the wells are not being fracked, saving water. But Ershadi said she fears that could change sooner than the city has imagined.

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Utah Environment
3:00 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

White Mesa Uranium Mill Accused Of Violating Radon Standards

The White Mesa Mill has been accused in court of violating radon standards.
Credit Google Earth

America’s last remaining uranium mill, located in Blanding, has been violating federal safety standards, a regional environmental group has charged in federal court.

The Grand Canyon Trust, which has long opposed uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, has filed its intent to sue in Utah Federal District Court. At issue is whether the White Mesa uranium mill is operating outside of the law and contaminating the area with high radiation and dust levels. Taylor McKinnon is the energy program director of the Trust.

"Agencies aren’t enforcing, and citizens need to. That’s what’s happening here. Utah isn’t doing its job, so we’re going to do that job.”

McKinnon says monitoring has established that federal standards for radon emissions have repeatedly been violated.

“We think these are pretty clear numerical violations. There’s not a lot of wiggle room. Based on monthly reports, those emissions have now exceeded the standard two years running,” he said.

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Utah News
12:00 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

New Low-power FM Stations Will Add To The Utah Radio Landscape

Groups and cities around the state apply for low-power FM licenses from the Federal Communications Commission.
Credit JON KOVASH / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

November was the deadline to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for a new round of low-power FM radio licenses. In Utah, there are 15 proposals for new stations.

The deadline has just passed for a historic window to apply for low-power FM frequencies. As soon as next year, Salt Lake City and several small towns in Utah could have new non-profit radio stations up and running. Limited to 100-watt transmitters, these will be what are sometimes called “hyper-local” stations.

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Utah Environment
5:09 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Plan To Idle White Mesa Mill Sends Shockwaves Through Uranium Country

Production at White Mesa Mill near Blanding, Utah will be paused indefinitely beginning August 2014.
Credit JON KOVASH / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

America’s last active uranium mill, near Blanding in San Juan County, announced plans to shut down for at least a year, beginning August 2014. It’s going to have a devastating effect on a would-be revival of uranium mining in the Four Corners.

The White Mesa Mill directly employs about 200 people in Blanding. Many more people, including suppliers and miners all across the region, depend on the mill.


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Utah Environment
3:40 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Five-year report card on Utah's 'street legal' ATVs

UTVs available for rent in Moab.
Credit Jon Kovash

Back in 2008 the Utah legislature launched a somewhat bold experiment: they created a new class of vehicle – the “street legal” off-highway vehicle. Five years later, the law remains mostly uncontroversial, but has had a big impact on the ATV rental and sales business. Jon Kovash reports from Moab, one of Utah’s ATV capitals.

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Utah Environment
11:35 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Bishop and Chaffetz propose a "grand bargain" for public lands

Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz stopped in Moab during a statewide tour this weekend. The main topic of discussion was public lands and energy.
Credit JON KOVASH / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

Two Utah congressmen say they are well on their way to forging a historic “grand bargain,” in which “the pie would be divvied up,” the pie being publicly owned lands in Eastern Utah.

Friday night, Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz were in Moab, halfway through a tour of Eastern Utah counties. They are promoting legislation they hope will eliminate the prospect of a Greater Canyonlands national monument, and pave the way for new development. Congressman Chaffetz addressed a large, mixed crowd that sported both “Sagebrush Rebel” T-shirts and “Protect Wild Utah” buttons.

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Utah Environment
12:45 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Tar Sands opponents utilize the concept of civil disobedience

Emily Stock was among those who are using civil disobedience to stand up for the environment.
Credit JON KOVASH

The recent demonstration and blocking of a road at the site of a proposed tar sands mine in the Book Cliffs area is part of a wave of direct actions across the country. What they have in common is the willingness of protestors to get arrested.

Southeast Utah has become the front lines in the battle against Tar Sands mining and the Keystone Pipeline. Last month, as in dozens of places across the country, activists in Utah conducted a direct action training camp, which culminated in the Book Cliffs action on July 29th. Among the ranks was Emily Stock, a Moab resident who has been working with a group called Canyon Country Rising Tide.

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Utah Environment
5:41 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Moab uranium cleanup hits milestone

Cleanup continues at this Moab uranium tailings site.
Credit Jon Kovash

The Moab uranium cleanup is meant primarily to allay the concerns of downriver users of Colorado River water. But will the river ever become pristine again alongside the tailings site? Jon Kovash reports.

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