Tempest swirls around Utah's dirty air problem


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  • terra nova Park City, UT
    Feb. 9, 2013 5:00 p.m.

    If you are for clean air, buy a 100% CNG powered car.

    We bought our first one about six years ago for $3500 The state was offering a $2500 tax credit. We figured we were not out much if it didn't work out.

    Thank-you Governor Herbert for keeping that tax credit in place. We own four now.

    All are Honda Civics. They are not swanky. But "sometimes you need to make sacrifices for the environment." At first it was a pain. My wife wanted to go back to a gasoline. But we got a good feeling knowing that we were doing SOMETHING to help. CNG is much cleaner than gasoline and diesel. CNG is a locally sourced fuel that keeps money and jobs here as opposed to funding countries that do not like America. It is also cheaper than gasoline or diesel. I am told that the exhaust from my car is actually cleaner than the air in Salt Lake.

    State government could do more. But how are YOU helping?

    Or, as Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

  • tlaulu Taylorsville, Utah
    Feb. 8, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    Brave Sir Robin:

    You took the word right out of my mouth, thanks. If I was going to a rally for clean air, I would ride public transit up the hill. Or maybe that was a green burn day they rode up in their personal vehicle eh?

  • dustmagnet heber city, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    Tax the polluters and offer income tax credits for "green".

    Polluters should pay more due to the increased costs of monitoring their pollution, health care costs, etc.
    Those who convert to electric heat, electric cars, etc should get a tax credit.

    Money talks. If it pays to be energy efficient and green, and costs more to pollute, it will work.

    Why is the state allowing open burning? Why are they not requiring contained burning with air scrubbers? Why are more pollution control systems in industry not being required by the State?

    Why is the State granting permits for businesses to EXPAND polluting activities? How can the pollution ever be reigned in when the State is doing this?

  • dustmagnet heber city, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    while geology has formed the "bowl" - people are putting the pollution in the bowl!

  • Dont Tread Iron County, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 2:49 a.m.

    @Dave D Salt Lake City is only the 123rd biggest city in the United States, with the biggest cities being 30-40 times its size, and yet we are supposed to believe that our air quality being the worst in the nation is solely caused by man alone? What then is so different about how we live in Utah that causes so much more pollution per capita?
    This reminds me of a demonstration I witnessed in class about soil conservation. A map was placed at the front of the class with percentages of soil erosion in each state. It was quickly discovered that Arizona was off the charts in soil erosion compared to other states and the teacher asked students to discuss why Arizona seemed to be having such a problem with soil erosion. The conversation quickly turned to discussions of how laissez faire attitudes in conservative states created so many environmental problems. At the end of the class the teacher revealed that the reason Arizona was ranked so high in soil erosion was because the Grand Canyon was in that state.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 5:53 p.m.

    I drive for UTA. Making transit free wouldn't help much. Many riders already have a monthly passs or a pass issued by their employer or college they attend. I can't think of a single post secondary school along the wasatch front that doesn't issue their students a bus pass. Some public schools such as West High issue students monthly bus passes. UTA now has hybrid buses in their fleet. I have noticed garbage trucks powered by Natural Gas. Grear idea. The governor should seriously converting most state vehicles into natural gas or propane. Counties and cities should so the same. The only exception would be police cruisers. Come on Governor show some leadership on this issue.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 4:38 p.m.

    All new state vehicles should be required to run on natural gas. Detroit should be encouraged to sell some vehicles fixed to use natural gas and not cost an arm and a leg. We have plenty of natural gas right here in Utah, abundant, cheap, and wonderfully clean as it has only a tiny fraction of nitrogen oxide emissions. Maybe other western states could also go to requiring natural gas for their new vehicles. Perhaps the state could arrange a garage to do natural gas conversions. I know one man did his for $1500. If the cost could be kept down to a reasonable level the savings on gas let's say $750 per 10,000 miles would soon pay off in short order. More private owners would want natural gas too. None of the other solutions seem very practical to me. Front Runner and light rail require large state subsidies to keep running.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 2:47 p.m.

    There is also the problem of the overwhelming entitlment society we have created that means I am entitled to drive my car any day I want, and justify it by saying that doing something else is just too darn inconvenient. It must be someone else's responsibility to resolve the issue. Certainly isn't mine and I shouldn't have to expend any more effort than to complain about it. (Where's my sarcasm font?)

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    In an earlier comment I compared air pollution to robbery and drunk driving. The differences between pollution and crime that make the comparison facetious account for the lack of political will and the difficulty of finding a policy solution. With robbery or DUIs, there is a single perpetrator with a single action that is directly attributable to tangible individual harm. A law penalizing the action (robbing, drinking) can easily affect individual behavior (decision to rob or drive drunk) and prevent or reduce the harm.

    With the inversion, the problem is created by tens of thousands of small individual decisions and the harm, while measurable and linked, is less direct. An emphysema death from the inversion cannot be tied to any one person's decision to drive that day, nor does any one person's decision to drive/not drive appreciably affect the odds of someone dying of emphysema. The harm is diffuse and the product of collective behavior. You can’t simply penalize driving, say, to reduce the harm, because each individual will rebut that THEIR driving isn’t killing anyone. It also doesn't help from a policy standpoint that the conditions that create inversions are intermittent and unpredictable.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    'Amanda Smith,... said offering free public transit on bad air days may “feel good,” but she wondered aloud at how effective it would be...“Until we start to grasp that and change how we live our lives, we are going to have an air quality problem,”'

    Some of the "...how we live our lives" is government related. Public transit is not feasible for private industry to sponsor, only for government. "Free fare days" wouldn't necessarily help, either. It would just encourage more people to get out and cram onto FrontRunner for entertainment purposes. There needs to be a balance between making the fares more affordable than driving a two-occupant car, and more convenient and accessible to more people. That will cost money. I think it would be more affordable in the long run to have monthly or yearly passes be especially bargain priced. That way, even if people don't think they will ride very often they can feel better about buying the convenience of the pass and perhaps get their money's worth.

    Having to drive your car and fill a parking slot all day to ride transit makes little sense either.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    VST: Have you considered that SLC gal's comment might also have been facetious? Try not to take her too seriously...

  • Pierda kaysville, ut
    Feb. 7, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    I wonder how many of the protesters drove their cars to the state capital to be part of the pointless effort?

  • Carson Provo, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    Require all out of state BYU & UVU students to leave their personal cars at home...We have a transit system!

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 12:07 p.m.

    To "Believer2" you are wrong. We can change the geography. Look at photos from 100 years ago of the area where Kennecott is currently located. There used to be a mountain there.

    Maybe the solution is to have Kennecott or another mining operation start an open pit mine and carve away a mountain so that when an inversion begins it form, the cold air will "drain" out of the valley?

  • joseywales Park City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    To all those who keep saying you bet they all drove individually.

    Afterward, rally participants said they made it to the event in a number of ways — walking, public transit, carpooling and yes, some drove up individually in their cars to rally about clean air.

    Sometimes if you just read the whole article, instead of assuming, you learn something. Then you don't look foolish when commenting.

    I'm betting that more drove than not, but still it clearly states in the article that some found alternative methods of transportation.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    I didn't realize the Gov. of Utah had the power to move the mountain ranges when they get inconvient. Fascinating!!!

  • BU52 Provo, ut
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    I'm glad to hear that some people are planning on moving out, that will help. but I wonder how many of those protesters drove their cars up to the capitol in order to ask the government to solve this natural problem? Maybe they could legislate on how much snow should fall during a given storm as well.

  • Swiss Price, Utah
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Nothing that half of you moving off the Wasatch Front wouldn't cure. The prison is the least polluting population and you waint to move it. Move the U its populationi Is the most polluting.

  • Thefullnancy SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    If all businesses would go to rotaing schedules of four 10's or nine 9's and have alternate days off for employees we would see a significant decrease in the number of commutes along the Wasatch Front. The air would improve significantly. The reasons businesses won't do this is simply they do not want to. The excuses run the gamut from increased liability to reduced production from employees. All unproven and all just excuses. This is really an easy fix and one that would strengthen the areas reputation for business.

  • Dave D Pocatello, ID
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    Can we all stop assuming that people at the rally drove in individual cars? I don't think that's fair or productive to a very important conversation.

  • Thefullnancy SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    If all businesses went to rotaintg schedule like four 10's or nine 9's we would eliminate many commute days from the Provo to SLC and Ogden to SLC cummutes. Trust me the air would significantly improve. The reason this is not being done is purely the refusal of businesses to do so.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    These people who want the governor to fix the problem are fooling them selves, wasting gas and creating more pollution to go to the capital to protest, and wasting theirs and the press's time. The governor is not the source of the pollution. It is all of us, and our cars, and our home heat.

    If these people really cared, they would protest the drivers. Perhaps they could stay in their own neighborhoods organizing carpools, or holding up signs by busy roads saying things like:

    Is this trip really necessary?

    Please share the unused seats in your car.

    Scrape, don't idle.

    Turn down your heat at home.

    Then they would be doing something helpful.

    This protest is a spoiled child temper tantrum.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    'EPA inventory shows Utah's sources of greenhouse gas' - By Amy Joi O'Donoghue - 02/05/13 - Published by the Deseret News

    'WASHINGTON — The nation's power plants continue to be the single largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new information released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.'

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    ‘Studies link air pollution to increased risk of strokes and dementia’ – by Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret news – 02/15/12

    ‘SALT LAKE CITY — Three new studies that underscore the link between bad air quality and significant health risks such as stroke, heart attacks and dementia suggest there is no safe level of air pollution and that more needs to be done to control the problem.’

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    I don't think anyone on this board thinks clean air is a Democrat issue. What are considered Democrat issues are *some* of the non-viable "solutions" proposed. Worse yet, expecting that they don't have personal responsibility--“We want him to step up and give us real world solutions”; “We are sick of him pointing the finger at us”--is also, rightly or wrongly, considered a Democrat issue. Republicans can be more proactive at coming up with workable solutions that would not appeal to the personal-liberty crowd, and Democrats can be more willing to take responsibility for their own actions rather than expecting someone else to fix things for them.

  • SundanceKid27 OREM, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    I bet all of these people drove separate cars to this function. Way to make a statement.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Can we form this as a pro-life discussion? Certainly Governor Herbert and a majority of the legislature are pro-life. And this gunky air is absolutely harming (even killing) both the born and unborn. So can we appeal to the pro-life side of Utah's government to do something substantive to improve Utah's air quality?

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    Question: How did these protesters get to the rally? Did they ride bikes or take mass transit? No, they came in a bunch of cars - probably very old cars getting poor mpg since this was basically a bunch of unemployed college kids - on a red air quality day. In other words, their response to the call to avoid unnecessary driving was....to do a bunch of unnecessary driving. Way to preserve our air quality, guys!

  • Civility Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    Public transit is not, and will never be as convenient as driving yourself. However personal vehicle use is where the most effect can be achieved. In this electronic age many people could work from home, and I believe significant improvement could be made if business were encouraged/required/rewarded to allow them to do so.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    Re: ". . . she wondered aloud at how effective it would be at getting people out of their cars and actually changing their personal ethic."

    Who is she to even wonder how best to force us out of our cars?

    That's the real problem with liberals in government. They can't discuss, persuade, even harangue, with considering the next step -- who to FORCE their will on us.

  • Dave D Pocatello, ID
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    I am appalled by the laissez faire attitudes on this page. Is Utah's geography different? Yes. And do these differences cause the bad air quality? ABSOLUTELY NOT! We do. Can't we all see that what we are doing to our planet offends God? We are killing ourselves by not changing our lifestyle. We are destroying nature. Until we start seeing our polluting actions as sinful, I fear things will continue to get worse.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    The state certainly has had no problem inserting itself into private business affairs in other areas of public health. It has required all businesses to exclude smoking customers from their premises. It has forced restaurants to make expensive architectural modifications to prevent children from being exposed to the corrupting sight of cocktail preparation. It has even socialized an entire sector of the economy to control liquor distribution and sales. (Another state, Kansas, has gone as far as dictating the dimensions of rooms and thermostat setttings of abortion providers.) The precedents are there. The issue is not whether the state can intervene in private enterprise to protect public health. That has been shown. It is all about political will and whose interests are to be protected, public health or business?

    Why don't we adopt the state's air quality strategy of voluntary compliance and apply it to other issues? Instead of laws against bank robbery, we could just encourage people not to rob banks (at least on days when there are have been excessively high numbers of robberies). Instead of having legal limits on blood alcohol levels for drivers, we could just ask people not to drive drunk.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    @DN Subscriber: Boy, I'd really like to see the statistics about most "leftists" not believing in God!

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    “We want clean air NOW!” or we’re going to stomp our feet and call you names. No “real world solutions” were provided by the group. Just a lot of whining, name calling and finger pointing. Blasted Governor anyway...

    The statistics presented at the "whine in" show that 57 percent of the air pollution is caused by vehicles, 32 percent comes from area sources such as small businesses, homes and other sources. Only 11% from local industry. Yet the complainers are “tired of Herbert telling people to get out of their cars and laying the problem on the doorstep of individuals, when more action and leadership is needed from him.”

    Like it or not, until we the people change our personal lifestyles, the problem will continue. Geography promises that.

    How about the loudest complainers come up with some real viable solutions. Something concrete. More than just a nebulous "increase taxes and shut down industry". Lay out a specific plan and then present it, like grownups. Do something constructive with it. Do some real homework and get the support of those around you, but with a viable solution, not for a whine fest.

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    I fail to understand why commenters on this board think clean air is a Democrat issue. Shouldn't everyone be fighting for clean air?

    Shouldn't government regulators only allow refineries etc to operate on good air days??
    Shouldn't government raise taxes on gasoline during bad air days?
    Shouldn't government allow driving only on odd and even days during high pollution times??
    Shouldn't private citizens refrain from using their wood burning stoves during bad air days?
    Shouldn't private citizens car pool on high pollution days?
    Shouldn't private citizens leave their cars in the garage on bad air days?

    It seems that so many fail to see that this air is killing us. So many in Utah are against smoking a cigarette now and then, but for some reason they feel it's ok if they breathe in this air 24/7???

  • sally Kearns, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    We are planning to move from the Salt Lake area when we retire. We are tired of having difficulty breathing. We live in an area where we can walk to stores, schools, library, post office etc. The air is so nasty, it is difficult to breath while walking.

  • UtahBruin Saratoga Springs, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    What they didn't report was that ever single one of these protesters showed up in their gasoline, diesel fuel cars and trucks.

    Feb. 7, 2013 6:56 a.m.

    Do nothing. Please governor. Stick to your guns and do absolutely nothing. Don't look to other states that have had similar problems and found workable resolutions. Don't try to get any science based discussion around atmospheric trends, causes, and possible preventative measures. Do nothing. Please.

    Then see how many businesses start moving elsewhere over the next five years. See how many businesses from out of state find Utah an attractive place to bring their company. See how many people relocate to other states for health reasons. See how many tourists continue to flock to Utah to ski in the pretty grey snow.

    But by all means, please do nothing. Don't even try.

  • Jack Rose China, 00
    Feb. 7, 2013 6:41 a.m.

    I have a home in the Heber Valley but am living in Beijing China right now. I never thought much about air pollution until moving here. Believe me when I say that you don't want air pollution to get out of hand. If it is getting worse then measures need to be taken by private and public interest to curb it.

    It is not the government's duty to clean it up. That is what is supposed to be the difference between China and the USA. We the people are in charge of the destiny of our country not the government. Let's not forget it. If we the people are making the air dirty and if we the people really want cleaner air then let's get on the stick and get it done. It is not entirely correct to say that it is the mountains or whatever that causes it, is it? How much pollution was there in 1847 or even 1947. Working together we can clean it up by involving our government representatives not handing them the job and our checkbooks, again.

  • SME Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 6:16 a.m.

    re: Marxist

    “The governor does not have the authority to shut down a legally operating business,” -
    Who is asking for that?

    Carl Ingwell and company are asking for that. When they say "shut down refineries when the air is bad" they are demanding that a legally operating business is shut downn.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 5:31 a.m.

    I'm sorry, but this protest is nearly worthless, and folks like Mr. Ingwell who shout tritely for solutions from heads of state who have no real authority on the matter do nothing to help. We cause the air quality problem here, each and every one of us who burns petroleum products to get around and heat our homes. I dislike Governor Herbert's environmental record, but he can't do much about this.

    It's pathetic that we willingly foul our own nest during the inversions, but unless we completely shut down our normal way of life for weeks at a time, it's inevitable. Shutting down refineries & industry would help--some. But cost--a lot. Pubic transit is rather inefficient for most of us and simply cannot get me where I need to go for work. Drive I must. I despise the air quality around here but am pragmatic enough to know that this place would have to grind to a halt to prevent it during these multi-week inversions.

    God cursed this place in winter. If I or a child of mine had a respiratory weakness, I would seriously consider moving out of this state.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 5:27 a.m.

    Geography is only responsible for the inversions, the rest of pollution is less complicated to solve than the governor pretends it to be.

    The state and business and commuters will all have to be more tolerant of the weather and natural weather road conditions but there is a way to greatly improve the snake oil sales pitches the governor is offering without taxing gas or citizens to excess.

    Our pollution in this valley is not emission related anymore, that element has become irrelevant and California is proof of that.

    The particulate matter salt, mud, dirt, and excessive use of commercially registered vehicles and vehicles used in business are not maintained to standards and cleanliness when tracking mud onto the roads. Vehicles of 1 ton and larger are granted loose emission standards and enforcment. The I-15 is the base culprit of our pollution where salt in winter melts snow and ice to water that traps dirt, mud, tire debris from drainage and high speed vehicles kick up this debris like an old dusty desert roads in the summer. You can see these dust clouds for miles and this is the same effect on our I-15 corridor.

  • Believer2 Draper, UT
    Feb. 7, 2013 12:46 a.m.

    We should use caution before making big changes that ould impose tax and business restrictions for a problem that exists for a few weeks each year, and still might not solve the problem, which is largely due to geological conditions that are unalterable.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 6, 2013 11:17 p.m.

    “The governor does not have the authority to shut down a legally operating business,” said Alan Matheson, Herbert’s environmental adviser and one of several staff members made available Wednesday to counter the criticism." Who is asking for that? Find a way to max out mass transit and minimize car traffic, like odds and evens.

  • Dont Tread Iron County, UT
    Feb. 6, 2013 9:32 p.m.

    The idea that a complicated environmental problem that is two parts geography and one part society, with the society element able to be further divided into a plethora of culprits, can be solved by the simple stroke of the executive pen is one of the great factors that has led to the modern day floundering of the American Democratic-Republic.
    Too often left-leaning people smirk at Republicans who claim to be the party of personal responsibility, but then these "progressives" are the ones on the steps shouting, "Stop blaming us," and asserting that absolutely nothing in this country can be solved without increasing the scope and size of our government. I have only read of one government in society that was able to force the type of societal change we are discussing here, and that government did so with Centurions and Legionnaires. No matter what issue we discuss it will always come down to this--this country can only be saved within the walls of the average American Home, and not in the halls Legislative hypocrisy.

  • 1conservative WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Feb. 6, 2013 8:48 p.m.

    Herbert doesn't lead. He follows....whatever business tells him to do.

    There are a variety of possible solutions. Some will cost, some will cost hardly anything.

    Just hoping people will "limit their driving" is NOT a solution. (crosses fingers)

    CNG cars, free UTA, higher taxes at the pump on polluted days are just a couple of ideas.

    Folks smarter than me probably have more.

    Problem is; Herbert just issues "press releases" and hopes the issue goes away!

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Feb. 6, 2013 8:39 p.m.

    The complainers really need to blame God, since it is His geologic formation of our area that created the bowl which holds the inversions in place.

    But, most leftists do not believe in God, so I guess they will blame Republicans instead.