Air quality research measure clears Senate committee

Published: Thursday, Jan. 31 2013 6:02 p.m. MST

Murky air from the inversion files the skies over Logan Tuesday morning, Jan. 22, 2013.

Mike Anderson, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — A Senate committee gave a preliminary thumbs-up Thursday to a measure that would create an Internet clearing house for research on air pollution, particularly its impacts to health.

The bill by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, directs the University of Utah's Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health to establish the website with $50,000 that would come from a legislative appropriation.

Mayne said the idea behind SB118 is to establish a voice of clarity in the often rancorous discussion about air quality, air pollution, its causes and its impacts to public health.

Under the measure heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the center would compile the research that has been done and post it on a website dedicated to the issue of environmental health and air pollution.

Todd Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, said the group endorses the bill, with the caveat that such a resource remain "very clearly unbiased" and refrain from finger-pointing.

The bill passed 4-1, with only Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, casting a no vote because of the financial cost. Christensen worried aloud about such a commitment when there are an abundance of social service needs in the community.

The Salt Lake/Davis metro area has just emerged from a month of inversions that state air quality regulators said have been the worst in nearly a decade. There were 22 mandatory no-burn days in January, and one voluntary action day that month.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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