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State GOP lawmakers call air quality everyone's problem

Published: Monday, Feb. 3 2014 5:25 p.m. MST

Air quality suffers as an inversion covers the Salt Lake valley  Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Utah's air quality is everyone's problem, not just a legislative issue, Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said Monday. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Air quality suffers as an inversion covers the Salt Lake valley Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Utah's air quality is everyone's problem, not just a legislative issue, Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said Monday. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's air quality is everyone's problem, not just a legislative issue, Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said Monday.

Adams said fixing the air quality problem along the Wasatch Front will require a "holistic" approach. About 60 percent of Utah's air pollution comes from vehicles, 30 percent from everyday life — including wood-burning fireplaces to heat homes — and 10 percent from industry, he said.

"We own about 90 percent of it — everyone in this room and everyone in this state," Adams told reporters and other state lawmakers gathered in the Senate president's office. "So it’s going to take more than a legislative fix to get on top of air quality, and hopefully we can be the catalyst for that."

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said Utah has made great progress in improving its air quality in recent years, noting that the air is nearly twice as clean as it was a decade ago. The challenge will be to keep it up and not go backward, Niederhauser said.

"At the end of the day, I think that the Legislature is going to take some leadership here on clean air," he said, "but we want to make sure what we do actually makes a difference."

Democrats issued a response Monday, saying they want stronger governmental leadership on air quality.

“The standard Republican talking points on air aren’t good enough. Utahns are tired of blaming commuters. We’re tired of hearing about natural gas and wood-burning stoves. Stop making excuses that the problem is difficult and start showing some leadership,” Matt Lyon, Utah Democratic Party executive director, said in the prepared statement.

Lyon also said the Republican caucus is divided on the issue and "out of touch."

“No more political maneuvering," he said. "No more back-patting. No more dithering. Utah needs leadership.”

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