The governor's Clean Air Commission has ended its first phase - writing recommendations to cleanse the Utah atmosphere - and is entering the second, implementing the suggestions.
During a luncheon in Gov. Norm Bangerter's mansion on Wednesday, commission members who worked on the project for nearly two years received copies of their final report on the fight against air pollution. Bangerter told them violations of federal health standards are unacceptable."We believe we've got some of the finest air in the world, particularly if the wind blows enough," the governor said.
He said the commission and five work groups had "people of all facets of our community working together . . . . I believe that there was a lot of consensus-building that took place."
Noting the high health costs of air pollution, Bangerter said industry is aware of the challenge it faces and that the public now must realize what it should do.
Nick Rose, president and chief executive officer of Mountain Fuel Supply Co., said the commission and its work groups drew upon Utahns with diverse backgrounds and differences of opinions. But he said they hammered out a good product.
"I can tell you, it was a time-consuming process, but it was a very productive process," he said.
With few exceptions, the recommendations that were supported received overwhelming majorities among the commission members, he said.
"There was no question that what was being proposed made sense," he said.
Rose stressed the value of protecting the environment and bringing new business to Utah. "Clean air, believe me, is going to be an important part of what we can offer" to companies thinking of locating here, he said.
Julie Mack, Provo, a member of the Utah County Clean Air Coalition, said, "There aren't any easy answers (to air pollution) . . . . There are good things happening, but we have a long way to go."
Twenty years ago, most American industrial leaders ignored their environmental responsibilities, she said. Then a flood of litigation followed passage of new environmental laws, and more and more companies began working to clean up their acts.
"Many companies are jumping aboard the environmental bandwagon to avoid getting run over by it," she said.
Mack said smoke and soot visible in urban air have been reduced by 25 percent, but such pollution problems as PM10 - the tiniest particulates - have turned out to be among the worst threats.
In combating pollution, she said, "It is important in light of what we know to be aggressive rather than passive."
Lt. Gov. Val Oveson admitted that the group's recommendations had a "zero batting average" in the just-concluded legislative session. But that doesn't mean the battle is over. "We can come back with a stronger program and a stronger plan next year," he said.
Citizens are interested and concerned about the environment, he said. Utahns need to understand "what our situation is . . . how bad our situation is, and what the facts are," he said.
The solutions to air pollution "are everybody's business," Oveson added.
The commission's report included nearly 160 recommendations. Among those are:
- Restrictions on use of wood-burning stoves during the winter for Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties.
- Prohibitions on home coal-burning in areas that don't meet federal standards.
- Adoption of the stringent California standards for auto emissions.