If the 1980s were the decade of the spending American, the 1990s could well be the decade of the environmentally conscious American.
And the city of Orem is getting on the bandwagon.Burnell Cordner, from the Utah County Bureau of Air Quality, said, "Orem is a very progressive city where the environment is concerned."
In fact, Cordner said Orem is the only city where he has been asked to make an official presentation on the possible effects of environmental legislation signed by President George Bush last November.
Cordner explained some of the implications of the new Clean Air Act to Orem's City Council Tuesday evening, saying a lot can be done now.
The basis of the new law is to protect human health, Cordner said. And some specific ways to do that are to decrease the presence of various particles (such as PM10) and carbon monoxide in the valley's air.
As part of a study, the state used PM10 readings from a monitoring site in Lindon, which showed that Geneva Steel accounted for approximately 58 percent of PM10 presence in Utah County.
Cordner said even if the steel plant's output were entirely eliminated, it would still not bring the air quality into compliance.
"We must look at other sources, too," he said.
Ott Dameron, head of Orem's Public Works Department, said that 45 percent of Utah County's carbon monoxide and other air problems come from vehicles.
Another approximately 33 percent comes from certain points in the valley and about 22 percent from consumer goods such as deodorant.
And Cordner said other Utah County industries, as well as wood-burning stoves, account for the rest of the particulate pollution, and all of these must be decreased simultaneously to get a good result.
"Our main challenge is to work with the cities in Utah County as much as possible," he said. And Orem is interested in helping.
Orem City Manager Daryl Berlin said one of the biggest challenges facing the city is how to balance politics with implementation and how to make all sides happy.
"And this is just the tip of the iceberg," Berlin said. In addition to air quality issues, there are also new storm drain regulations and clean water regulations to consider.
One way Utah County is helping is through its vehicle inspection and maintenance program.
Cordner said, "It is one of the tightest and best programs in the nation and it has contributed significantly toward better air quality."
Orem may test natural gas, propane in cars
Orem city officials have proposed an experiment to test the value of switching from vehicles run by gasoline to one that run on propane or natural gas.
"The city needs to show the community that we care about the environment," said Ott Dameron, director of Orem's Public Works Department.
For six months, six city-owned cars would have tanks installed in them, three with natural gas and three with propane.
Despite some drawbacks, like future costs and possible decreased power, the city believes the cars would emit fewer particles into the air.