Utah's pollution problem: Small steps making positive impact for air quality


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  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 31, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    Re: Pagan | 3:34 p.m. March 31, 2011

    The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department wanted to stop beach bonfires to help slow "global warming". At the same time almost the entire state of California was being consumed by brush fires bring the smoke as far west as Salt lake City.

    When it comes to common sense our friends in government show an astonishing lack of it.

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    March 31, 2011 4:00 p.m.


    What does "flex fuel" (actually E85 Ethanol) have to do with emissions? Ethanol production does nothing but drive up food prices, we don't want any more of that garbage here than we absolutely have to have.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 3:34 p.m.

    'I suppose we could go back to the old horse and buggy days but even horses have an emission problem.' - Rifleman | 3:16 p.m.


    I guess that's comparable to today.

    *'Fourth-straight red air quality alert issued for Wasatch Front' - DSNews - 01/07/2011

    *'Lung Association slams Utah areas for bad air' - By Amy Joi O'Donoghue - DSNews - 04/30/09

    *'Mucky air blankets northern Utah' - By Jasen Lee - DSNews - 12/02/2010

    Or not.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 31, 2011 3:16 p.m.

    I'll take Salt Lake City's air over Los Angeles's every day. I suppose we could go back to the old horse and buggy days but even horses have an emission problem.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    March 31, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    Brigham Young, in his day, also had a physical reaction to the inversions that occurred in the Salt Lake Valley, and traveled south to spend winters in St. George due, in part, to difficulty breathing. Inversions in that era were fueled only by the burning of wood in fireplaces in residents homes (prior to coal being widely used for home heating). And consider how few residents lived in the valley then.

  • attentive Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 1:34 p.m.

    If you think it's toxic now, wait until the inversion traps that radiation in The Valley.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    March 31, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    Don't you just love those lovely spring and summer brownish skies? How about the frozen winter fog with it's colorful pallet of blacks, grays and browns? So beautiful! Must be filled with vitamins and minerals to make us all stronger!

    Those who are unable to go outside because of that super, duper fresh air are so jealous of the rest of us. We on the outside breathe deeply and feel so healthy!

    And those fabulously lucky respiratory compromises patients in the hospitals........ Hot Dog, what a great life they are having!

    Even those in the fabulous fresh air of the Los Angeles Basin are just dying to get to Salt Lake City and it's amazing

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    March 31, 2011 12:52 p.m.

    srw | 8:58 a.m. March 31, 2011
    Riverton, UT
    "Car pooling can cut emissions by 75 percent," said Carpenter, "A car with one person in it lets one pound of greenhouse gas per passenger mile, whereas a van full of people lets 1.5 pounds of green house gas per passenger mile."

    That doesn't make sense. What are the correct numbers?


    If I may.

    1 car X 1 pound / 1 passenger = 1 pound per passenger
    1 van X 1.5 pounds / 8-15 passengers = 0.1875 to 0.10 pounds per passenger

    That easily equates to 75% to 90% reduction.

    While Carpooling in a car with 4 people is a clear 75% reduction.

    [If you don't want to carpool - try driving a vehicle getting 40-50 miles per gallon as opposed to a truck or SUV-- it will do the same thing .... in addition to saving you about $200 - $300 per month.
    Dollar for Dollar - you could actually be getting that new car for nothing].

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 31, 2011 11:28 a.m.

    What pollution problem?

  • dustmagnet THATCHER, UT
    March 31, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    Not that i am pro kennicott - but there are plenty of other major companies polluting in UTAH - again - go to the EPA website and look up the TRI (toxic releases from companies of HAZARDOUS MATERIALS) - look at ATK (for example)

    And don't forget it is not just the air! check on groundwater plumes of toxic chemcials - some of which emit vapors that can affect people in houses, etc.

    Cars are just part of the problem - i moved here 2 years ago and own a flex fuel vehicle and yet can't find flex fuel for sale.

    What is being done to promote electric for heating etc.? The state i moved from gave cheaper and cost effective pricing if you heated with electric on off peak hours, etc.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    March 31, 2011 11:13 a.m.


    I agree. There is no pollution problem here in Utah. Forget what scientist tell you (what do they know anyway?). Forget what doctors tell you about all the deaths and health problems related to Utah's air (what do they know anyway?). Forget what your eyes tell you when look outside and see the winter pollution inversion or the pollution haze in the summer (what do we know anyway?).

    Rest easy tonight, Utah. Just remember, man cannot affect the environment one little bit. Rest easy.

  • D Van Duker Syracuse, UT
    March 31, 2011 10:38 a.m.

    The largest RECOGNIZED factors to increases vehicle emissions are--in order:

    1) Poor traffic management--slow moving & stop-n-go traffic SIGNIFICANTLY increases vehicle emissions. Vehicles are less efficient at slower speeds and while accellerating; just about doubling the vehicle emmision rates. Shutting down I-15 causes emmissions levels to go thru the roof.

    2) Fleet exemptions--Most diesel (trucks, pickups, and passenger cars) and fleet vehicles (federal, state, and local government vehicles, as well as those operated school districts, utilities, and large companies) are granted exemption from emmission testing...even in the counties with the highest pollution problems.

    3) Diesel vehicles--while the gases out of the tail-pipe are about the same, diesel engines emit a much larger amount of particulate...especially at accelleration and when the engine isn't properly tuned--they are generally exempted because of pollitics and economics--deisel engines require special test equipment.

    It seems that most government "fixes" are focused on what the public can do, rather than the govenment changing they own practices.

  • byronbca Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    I remember another article by the D news that quoted Kennocott's emissions as up to 25% of SL Valley's air pollution. I wonder which number is closer to the truth?

    Even if it is 6% that number is still way to high for one company. I hope they really can halve their emissions by 2014, on a bad air day a 3% change could literally make a visible difference.

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    March 31, 2011 10:29 a.m.

    Here are a few things SLC could do to improve air quality.

    #1: Close all drive-thrus. Make people park and go inside if they want something. All those cars idling in line are just creating pollution.

    #2: Alter government office and school hours, opening and closing later means less vehicles on the road during the 6-8AM and 4-6PM rush periods.

    #3: Replace all buses with new hybrid models. This includes school buses.

    #4: Install new intelligent traffic control signals all across town. These detect changes in traffic patterns and can alter light timing to reduce traffic jams.

    Yes, it's an expensive thing to do. Yes, it will inconvenience some people. However these changes can have a large effect on air quality and require only minimal changes to people's everyday lives.

  • Rebel-Aggie Provo, UT
    March 31, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    St. George has is nice :)

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    March 31, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    cjin | 8:01 a.m. March 31, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT

    A few hazy air days are necessary if we are going to continuing growing. We need growth to support our economy. We need to grow to support our families. Tokyo supports about 35 million people. We should be able to support at least that many in this valley.


    And the Japanese --
    use mass-transit,
    R&D Electric Vehicles,
    No ones drives SUVs or over-sized trucks,
    Coal powered plants are being converted to Natural Gas.

    I guess you've never heard of the Kyoto Protocol.

    [Oh, and they are Socialist.]

    But whatever is good for business, right? --
    Be happy in your little pig-pen.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    March 31, 2011 9:34 a.m.

    Last summer on a Timp hike I looked down into the valleys and said "do I really want to go back down and breathe *THAT*?"

    We need to face the fact that as population along the Wasatch Front continues to climb, if we want to have this place remain in any way a decent area to live in, we're going to have to change our patterns of development and transportation drastically. Walkable communities, high density developments rather than suburban sprawl and strip malls, initiatives to make it more feasible for people to live closer to where they work, better public transportation, and even biting the bullet and increasing the gas tax all need to be discussed.

    Unfortunately, I don't know that we have the political will to do anything. People are so opposed to getting together as a community to make long-term plans ("planning how to deal with growth? COMMUNISM! how dare you limit developers' 'rights'?")

    In the early days of Utah, we were world leaders in urban planning. In today's political atmosphere, anybody who would publicly advocate such planning would almost need to worry about being lynched, even if they were Brigham Young.

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    March 31, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    That first quotation should read "natural beauty," not "national beauty."

  • LivinLarge Bountiful, UT
    March 31, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    The pollution around here is terrible! We had friends visit us from Southern California and they were complaining about our pollution. Their eyes were stinging and their throats were scratchy...now that's a big switch from 20 years ago.

  • srw Riverton, UT
    March 31, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    "Car pooling can cut emissions by 75 percent," said Carpenter, "A car with one person in it lets one pound of greenhouse gas per passenger mile, whereas a van full of people lets 1.5 pounds of green house gas per passenger mile."

    That doesn't make sense. What are the correct numbers?

  • Chris T Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 31, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    Want to cut particle pollution by at least 6 percent? Shut down Kennecott. Now they want to increase production. Just look at that sludge mountain they are building between Magna and I-80. As the wind blows, it picks up those particles, and get this, the particles don't just land on Magna, they cover the whole Wasatch front, and beyond. Kennecott should not be allowed to increase production, it should be forced to cut production and if possible to shut down.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 8:17 a.m.

    'Forbes Magazine recently labeled Utah one of the country's most toxic states a designation that could create concern about the health of residents...' - Article


    More like 'has.'

    * 'Northern Utah's air is the worst in the nation' - KSL - 01/11/10

    'SALT LAKE CITY -- Northern Utah currently boasts the worst air in the nation, and it's not even a close margin.'

    * 'Red air quality alert issued, limit driving' - DSNews - 08/25/10

    *'Study says coal burning in Utah kills 202 a year' - AP - Published by DSNews - 10/19/10

    'SALT LAKE CITY A study commissioned by Utah state agencies says air pollution kills 202 residents a year.'

    Small steps to clean the air in Utah are nice.

    But why can't we take big steps?

    Are the lives of residents in Utah worth so little?

  • Yeah but South Jordan, UT
    March 31, 2011 8:09 a.m.

    I have three comments:

    1) If UTA is so "green," then why did they skimp and buy Tier 0 engines on the FrontRunner trains. Have you see the smoke belching from the engines when they go from Salt Lake up the hill through Davis County. For just a few thousand dollars, they could have bought much, much cleaner Tier II or II engines.

    2) This city is full of chickens named Little. We have days when pollution is bad. Many, many cities do. When we have inversions here, it is not uncommon for the jet stream to be cleaning out the LA basin and the east coast, thus making us the "most polluted city." Big whoppee! There has to be a "the most," but it doesn't really mean anything. People don't seem to understand that generally, we have the cleanest air in the country. Our pollution levels on an annual basis are much lower than most comparably sized or larger cities on the planet.

    3) Before the EPA existed, Utah had Air Conservation Regulations. EPA keeps lowering the standards, and Utah keeps meeting them. Working together, we can do anything, but it will take all of us.

  • dustmagnet THATCHER, UT
    March 31, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    just go to the EPA TRI (toxic release inventory) for Utah (you can google it - this site won't let me provide the link). This is what you are breathing and drinking! Jobs are not as important as lives and health!

  • cjin Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 8:01 a.m.

    A few hazy air days are necessary if we are going to continuing growing. We need growth to support our economy. We need to grow to support our families. Tokyo supports about 35 million people. We should be able to support at least that many in this valley.

  • dustmagnet THATCHER, UT
    March 31, 2011 7:25 a.m.

    to davidmpark -come on over to my place and see what hydrochloric acid does to a property!

  • dustmagnet THATCHER, UT
    March 31, 2011 7:22 a.m.

    Because the State's lawmakers value the dirty corporations' money more than the people or the environment. By law, as i have been told, utah cannot have more stringent laws regarding pollution than the minimal guidelines that the EPA has.
    What is needed is politicians in this State running on pollution issues - difficult, because the pockets of opponents will be fattened by the polluters.
    People need to speak out and continue to speak out. For me - i will be moving out of this filthy place as soon as i can. My property was polluted last year - it appears nothing will be done about that or to stop it in the future.
    DEQ is meerly the face for the politicians who are in turn the face of the corporations.
    If you value your health and lives - move!

  • Gentile brookings, SD
    March 31, 2011 6:24 a.m.

    Ah, yes: Pogo: we have met the enemy and it is us.

    I cannot figure out why Utah is so polluted with so many believers in this being God's country. How does one dare do this to God's country?

  • My2Cents Kearns, UT
    March 31, 2011 5:34 a.m.

    A moratorium on development it the SL valley is the only way to fix this problem. Make all new business move to south of the prison. The second most valuable method of pollution clean up is stop salting the roads and make all construction vehicles wash down their vehicle when leaving a job site. Oh, and a annual mileage tax on all commercial use vehicles.

    Government does not need to spend so much time and money to get a handle on pollution and inversions in the valley, they just have to be willing to target the commercial business source and make them feel like they need to be more active in cleaning up this junk they are leaving behind.

  • davidmpark Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 5:21 a.m.

    So, Forbes publishes one article WITHOUT publishing the raw data, and now that's the pretext to seize more of my rights, steal more of my property and money, and pretty much order me around with social faux pas? No - I refuse.

    Any scientist knows that pollution is the same as trash: useful, valuable commodities people throw away.

    The air pollution does contain CO2, O3, and many other USEFUL chemicals that must be HARVESTED - not used for political pretext by those incapable of seeing the wealth flow in on it's own! No, instead we get demands to turn over our ability to travel more than 10 miles in a small time frame to another government entity, and/or we loose more rights to electricity and heating fuels.

    For goodness sakes, we are not here for the sake of government and those that feed from it; we're MEN! Created to expand our abilities and to create better lives for ourselves - not to serve weak people who wish to throw away the treasures of the earth for some unsubstantiated reason!