Advocates uniformly say not enough is being done enough to curb industrial pollution. The rallying cry is for a moratorium on new high construction, refinery or mining expansions, or for refineries to move altogether away from the Wasatch Front. They see solutions in "no excuses action," that place primacy on health over dollars and jobs provided by industry.
As the demands rage on, more than two dozen regulations passed by air quality regulators will clean up consumer products and invoke new pollution-cutting standards on small businesses like auto body shops.
Becker, joined by some public policy groups, argues real legislative change is necessary to cut down on the air pollution, including raising the gas tax, enhancing funding for UTA to provide more bus routes and allowing the divison of air quality to adopt fixes that are more stringent than the federal government.
One researcher questioned the value of implementing a tougher standard when the state can't even meet the current one on the books and if energy might be better directed at reducing vulnerabilities of populations clustered along high-pollution corridors.
Still others believe new vehicle and fuel standards called "Tier 3" will help to scrub the air; over time cleaner cars have made a signifigant dent in the amount of air pollution that exists. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is requesting $18 million for air pollution initiatives, including replacing the dirtiest of old diesel school busses.
Arden Pope, a Brigham Young University professor whose breakthrough research made the link between air pollution and adverse health effects, said it would be wise for people to remember that pollution-combatting changes have been monumental, but the problem still exists along the Wasatch Front.
"Automobiles have cleaned up dramatically — the amount of pollution coming out of the tailpipe of gasoline powered vehicles is dramatically lower. We see some improvement with industry, but industry keeps growing."
The Utah Foundation study noted the curious statistical anomaly that shows despite estimates that Salt Lake County emissions have plunged by 47 percent from 2002-2011, there has been no marked difference in the number of high pollution days during that time frame.
"While we are lowering the pollutants we are putting into the air, we can't statistically say whether there has been an increase or a decrease given the number of high pollution days," Teigen said.
He said the lesson for Utah residents should be that there is no time out or rest when it comes to cleaning up the air.
Pope agrees: "We have been struggling and trying to improve our air quality and even with that struggle, we continue to have poor air quality certainly during those times when we have stagnant air."
Both men said the lesson contained in inversions that persist despite the advances made in the war on pollution are a reminder that no single slingshot will slay the bully of bad air.
"So as we go forward, " Teigen said, "even if we take care of wood smoke, even if the UTA ramps up bus service and we put in Tier 3 standards, there is no rest period in this."
Added Pope: "What we need to do is have reasonable goals to have clean safe cities. All of us are going to have to work at it, but we will all benefit from it. The benefits of improving our air quality are large enough that it is worth it."
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