Comments about ‘My view: An engaged Legislature for clean air’

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Published: Tuesday, April 15 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

Too much of the opposition to clean air comes from economic interests who believe addressing air quality will somehow hurt Utah's economy.

From what I've read, however, we're losing business opportunities and development of business because outside business developers see our bad air and decide to go elsewhere so that their employees will have better quality of life and fewer health problems requiring more ObamaCare.

There's much talk of Utah attracting more high-tech firms, but this industry is on the cutting edge of renewable energy, and if we're to take advantage of that industry for the 21st century, we have to leave our 19th century fossil fuels bias behind.

The Governor's energy summit, sadly, seems to be centered on boosting fossil fuels.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Let's put a hold on the hearty commendations. The Legislature actually did very, very, very little about air quality. The actions listed were almost microscopic. When this valley has twice the population and four times the pollution as a result, then--maybe--the emergency of widespread illness and death and a major exodus will force serious action.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Irony Guy is correct. Sure, it's nice to give positive reinforcement to people to get them to change, but the entrenched economic interests and ideological puritans who oppose governmental involvement clearly won this round in the Legislature, with a token effort and not much impact on the problem.

Here's the thing that's baffling - while concerned citizens got organized to lobby Legislators, they found that they were outmanned on the hill, and those familiar with the lobbying process patted them on the head and said "be patient, next time maybe you'll have better luck".

Excuse me, but is the Legislature really such an insular cocoon that universal problems like air pollution require professional lobbyists in order to have the issue addressed? Evidently the Legislators don't represent the people as much as they serve the interests who lobby them.

It may be time for Utah voters to step up and send an unmistakable message, one that won't get watered down by back-slapping lobbyists.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "So just what did the state Legislature accomplish to improve air quality in the 2014 legislative session?"

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

There are only 2 things the legislature can actually do about Utah air quality -- (1) Foolishly shovel large sums of money at a "problem" that has existed since the Pleistocene, and will remain unaffected by any puny, but ruinously expensive people-control measures politicians may use to buy votes from the ill-advised and uninformed; and (2) Synchronously whine with those that whine, to cynically show how "connected" and "concerned" they are about a problem that politicians love to demagogue, but to which we applied all reasonable measures and produced all possible effects decades ago.

Used to be, they limited their actions to the latter, but lately, they seem drawn, like moths to the flame, to the former.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The Legislature can't give us clean air. They are powerful, but they aren't that powerful.

The Legislature can legislate, but they can't give us clean air. Until we realize that WE have to do it... you can grovel before the Legislature all you want, but until you do something... the air won't get any cleaner.

The people who look to the Legislature to clean our air... are people who don't feel empowered to do anything on their own. Or they feel like THEY don't need to do anything... the important thing is to get everybody ELSE doing more.

I think until I am doing all I can... I have no room going to the Legislature to get them to legislate that everybody else adopt a higher level of environmentalism than mine.

Some people are very radical about their environmentalism already. And they will never be happy until the Legislature forces EVERYBODY to eat granola and drive to work burning french fry oil like them.

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

Looking over Utah.gov web sites all I can find out about Salt Lake Valley air quality is the usual pablum about driving less, using public transportation blah, blah, blah. I think it is time for Utah to man up and publicize detailed information on where our pollution is coming from. I'm sure the information is available somewhere, but that data needs to be front and center if we want to have an intelligent discussion about our pollution dilemma.

The Sierra Club web site claims that Rio Tinto is responsible for one third of the valleys air pollution, but by some form of statistical alchemy, Rio Tinto claims it is only responsible for 5.8% of PM2.5 and PM 2.5 precursors, but doesn't mention particles greater than PM2.5 or toxic heavy metal pollutants.

The first step in solving a problem is defining the problem. I think our government leaders need to make available a totally independent data set and analysis of Utah's air quality woes.

I just don't think our leaders have the gumption to take on the valleys economic interests!

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

liberal larry,
How can you know definitively where every bit of air pollution comes from? Hook up a sensor to every tail pipe, furnace vent, hot water heater vent, smoke stack, etc?

There's no way to know exactly where every bit of air pollution comes from. You can estimate though. But they are still estimates.

===

RE: "The Sierra Club web site claims that Rio Tinto is responsible for one third of the valleys air pollution"...

How does the Sierra Club know this?

Has the Sierra Club taken into account that Rio Tinto was mostly shutdown this winter (because of the landslide)? And we still had our worst air conditions (during a time Rio Tinto was more than 50% shutdown).

So in my mind that indicates that Rio Tinto isn't the main culprit (because we had our worst year when they were doing almost nothing).

But we have more people driving on our highways this year (and each year), and heating their homes, and their water, and running their fireplaces... so maybe that's a contributor...

How does the Sierra Club know how much air pollution Rio Tinto specifically is responsible for?

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

My GOP Utah State delgate response -- and I directly quote,

"If the EPA is for it, then I'm against it!"

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "When this valley has twice the population and four times the pollution . . . ."

Just for the record, this valley has way more than twice the population it had when I was a kid, probably closer to 10 times as much. And it's pollution levels are way less than one-tenth what they were. And all that has been the result of reasonable, market-based, win-win initiatives. Not ruinously expensive, unsustainable tinkering at the margins.

So, sorry, but the radical tree-hugger numbers just won't ever add up.

Ever.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

WE have to change.

You can't expect only somebody ELSE to change.

Even IF the Legislation passes legislation requiring cleaner air... it's going to be US who have to respond to the legislation and change!

So why not just change.. and quit waiting for the Legislature to legislate that you change?

We all know what needs to be done.
Why do some keep waiting for the Legislature to TELL US what needs to be done??
Just do it!

Ride tracks, car pool, don't burn wood. Get a more efficient car. Get a tuneup, keep tires inflated correctly, limit trips.

I know some think politicians are Gods... but there's no miracle the Legislature can give you!

Mikhail
ALPINE, UT

Straw man = economic interests. Why blame economic interests? Aren't we all economic interests?

Even if we were to cease to live in the Salt Lake valley, there will be air pollution. I agree that the legislature can't do anything about air pollution in Salt Lake valley - unless they legislate that no living thing can reside in the valley. How will that work for your economic interest?

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Ok repubs. You win. I admit , the legislature has done amazing things to fix our nationally worst air quality.

Any repub care to actually list what our wonderful legislature did?

I don't want anymore cheerleading chants. Enough Pom poms. I want hard evidence and specifics. What did they do this last session?

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The Real Maverick,
Our air isn't the Legislature's job... it's OUR job.

They can't clean it... we can.

Quit pretending the legislature has to do something amazing to fix our nationally worst air, or the Legislature has to do something amazing before we can begin to clean our air.

If you keep waiting for the Legislature to do something amazing... you will never get started...

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

procuradorfiscal: "Just for the record, this valley has way more than twice the population it had when I was a kid, probably closer to 10 times as much."

Salt Lake County has a tad over a million people today. Its population was half that between the 1970 and 1980 censuses (459k and 619k, respectively. It was a tenth that between 1900 and 1910 (78k and 131k). While it's plausible that you grew up in the Baby Boomer years, I'm skeptical that you are a centenarian.

procuradorfiscal: "And it's pollution levels are way less than one-tenth what they were. And all that has been the result of reasonable, market-based, win-win initiatives. Not ruinously expensive, unsustainable tinkering at the margins."

Can you substantiate the pollution levels and specify the policy initiatives? Much as I'd like to credit the free market, I see government mandated auto emissions controls, emissions testing, regulation of power plants, federal grants, etc. as more responsible for the improvements in air quality. Detroit automakers and the utilities didn't willingly clean up on their own. They were pushed into improving technology by government policy and torts, not the market.

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