The Environmental Protection Agency intends to designate all of Utah County as a non-attainment area for carbon monoxide.
Currently only Provo is designated as a non-attainment area for the pollutant. EPA wants to expand the non-attainment area boundaries because of significant population growth in the county. In addition, there are significant sources of carbon monoxide outside of Provo.EPA also plans to designate all of Weber County rather than just Ogden as a non-attainment area.
In a letter to Gov. Norm Bangerter dated May 13, EPA gives the state 20 days to provide technical information demonstrating why the boundaries in both areas should not be expanded.
"We feel that having only the city of Provo designated doesn't necessarily protect the majority of the population," said Marius Gedgaudas, EPA Region VIII chief of state implementation plan-permits section in Denver.
"We are particularly concerned about the Orem area. We think to be on the safe side that the state needs to look at a larger area. There is a lot of traffic going back and forth and we want to be sure we're covering the hot spots for carbon monoxide that may be occurring."
Burnell Cordner, director of the Bureau of Air Quality, does not think the entire county warrants designation as a non-attainment area. However, it would be impossible for the state to provide technical information supporting that conclusion within 20 days.
"They are making the determination," he said. "I think the obligation (to show why the whole county should be designated) is probably theirs.
"I don't know that they have documentation to show it should be the county." Cordner said. "We have measured places in the county that don't show any problems - like Lindon."
Officials at the City-County Health Department of Utah County say at a minimum the Orem-Provo area should be listed as out of compliance. The department supports expanding the boundaries to encompass Springville to American Fork based on a previous Bureau of Air Quality study that showed a carbon monoxide problem through the area.
But Ralph Clegg, Health Department assistant director, says the department isn't convinced all of Utah County should be declared out of compliance. For example, a source located on the west side of Utah Lake would probably not contribute significantly to carbon monoxide violations, he said.
"We would like to see the Bureau of Air Quality do more monitoring and study to find the exact non-attainment area so we're not necessarily restricting sources where it is not a problem," Clegg said.
A larger non-attainment area would make it easier to administer programs county-wide, Gedgaudas said. It also would enable the state to use standardized control programs. And, it would allow the state to implement programs that require metropolitan statistical areas, such as the alternate fuels program.
Utah and Weber counties are part of metropolitan statistical areas.
But Cordner said several programs aimed at reducing pollutant levels are already operating or being implemented on a county-wide basis - the vehicle inspection and maintenance program, for example.
( Additional information)
Carbon monoxide zone
EPA wants to expand non-attainment area.
"We feel that having only Provo designated doesn't necessarily protect the majority of the population. We are particularly concerned about the Orem area. . . . There is a lot of traffic going back and forth." - EPA official Marius Gedgaudas.
Utah doesn't agree but may not be able to do anything about it.
Burnell Cordner, director of the state Bureau of Air Quality, does not think the entire Utah County warrants designation as a non-attainment area. However, the EPA has given the state only 20 days to come up with opposing arguments, which is not enough time.