In the interest of public health, some exemptions from clean air rules should be ended, say activists of the Utah Clean Air Coalition.
The exemptions are frequently granted to polluting industries, allowing them to release more pollutants than otherwise permitted by health regulations."The Utah Air Conservation Committee continues to grant exemption after exemption to industry, even when these exemptions mean significant increases in pollutants that are already threatening public health," said Linda Clark of the League of Women Voters of Utah, one of the coalition's member groups.
"It's time the committee stood up to industry and just said `NO!' " she said.
The coalition unveiled its "citizens proposal for healthy air" in a press conference Tuesday. Members said they were taking action because state officials failed to adopt measures to make the atmosphere clean enough in northern Utah.
Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties all failed to meet federal standards for carbon monoxide, and of these, only Utah County managed to meet the health standard for ozone.
Salt Lake and Utah counties are also far above the new health standard for tiny particulates, the group said.
Traffic lights should be synchronized in Utah's major cities to improve traffic flow, resulting in a reduction in auto-caused air pollution, the coalition added.
The coalition, based at 637 E. Fourth South, called for immediate synchronization of semaphores and rejection of industry requests for variances from clean air rules. Members believe these could reduce air pollution to the federal safety levels.
The coalition is made up of the American Lung Association of Utah, Health Professionals for a Safe Environment, League of Women Voters of Utah, Salt Lake Community Action Program, Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, Utah Valley Citizens for Clean Air, Utah Audubon Society and Salt Lake Association of Community Councils.
Coalition members charged that a variance granted to the Davis County incinerator triples nitrogen oxide emissions from the plant, from 137 tons per year to about 382 tons.
Public health advisories should be issued as frequently as needed, to warn people about dangerous air pollution conditions, the group said.
New monitoring stations should be set up to check for toxic material released, members added. Increased monitoring is needed at the Geneva Steel plant and at the Kennecott tailings pond, they said.
People who have illnesses that are exacerbated by air pollution should be appointed to the Utah Air Conservation Committee, the coalition believes.
Alan Miller of the coalition said the proposal was presented to the committee at its meeting Thursday.