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Utah Air Quality Board to take up greenhouse gas petition

Published: Thursday, June 30 2011 9:07 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The state Air Quality Board is slated to take action next week on a citizen-driven petition requesting multiple agencies and Gov. Gary Herbert adopt a greenhouse gas reduction plan.

The group says the plan, which would include an annual inventory report and a commitment to reduce those pollutants by 6 percent each year through 2050, is necessary to maintain the integrity of the atmosphere. "In short, the youth, their parents, their grandparents and their future children need a stable climate in order to enjoy a liveable future."

Seven state agencies and Herbert are being asked to take part in an exhaustive approach to investigate, monitor and subsequently curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Those agencies include the state Department of Agriculture, the state Division of Water Resources and the Utah Department of Health.

In the instance of water resources, for example, the petition wants the division to investigate the likely effects of climate change on water resources and water supplies and publish the results of that investigation.

The petition was filed by attorney Jamie Pleune, with the Salt Lake firm of Mohrman and Scofield, and includes signatories that are high school students, new parents and grandparents.

"They want to work with the government and work together to arrive at meaningful solutions."

Pleune said although the state under then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s direction came up with a greenhouse gas reduction strategy in 2007 and an inventory as far back as 1993, nothing was ever acted on.

"What the petitioners are asking for is that long-range plan take the latest research in climate change and ask what we would need to do if we were really serious."

Pleune said the simplest approach to the problem begins at a local level.

'The bottom line is although climate change is this global issue and really complicated, most of the things we would need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint would happen on a very localized level. It does not take an expert to figure out what it is."

Dave McNeill, a program manager with the state Division of Air Quality, said the board will take up the issue July 6 at its monthly meeting.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants and the agency is still in the process of crafting rules for imposing limits on factories. About a dozen or so businesses in Utah submit information on greenhouse gas inventories to the EPA —  which is being challenged by conservative lawmakers and multiple industries over the move to regulate.

Pleune has already met with Herbert's environmental adviser, Ted Wilson, and wants to continue the discussion with other agencies.

"This really is a no-regrets policy, going at the root of the problem rather than going after the effects later, when our air quality is even worse," Pleune said.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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