Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, says he'd hold Geneva Steel to clean-air guidelines set by the state, but he would not force the company to anticipate four years in advance what the guidelines will be.
"I'm willing to do everything I can do to keep Geneva's feet to the fire and make sure they meet every requirement imposed on them by the state and federal government," he said. "But I'm not going to make them anticipate three or four years down the road what the requirements might be. I think that's totally unfair. We don't ask any other industry in the whole world to do that."Nielson made those comments before a pro-Geneva, overflow crowd in the Provo City Council chambers Friday. The Geneva issue was the major topic of discussion at the meeting, a result of a press conference last week by Utah County Commission Chairman Brent Morris.
Morris said the free-enterprise system didn't give anyone or any company the right to impose conditions that are detrimental to the health of others.
Nielson did not mention Morris' comments specifically, but he did anticipate that air quality would be the major issue of the meeting.
Before the meeting, the congressman issued a press release stating his views on clean air and Geneva Steel. "There is an element of national security involved here, and I believe it would be a big mistake for us to be almost totally dependent on foreign steel. It could mean disaster down the road.
"So, while I will never campaign for dirty air, I don't want to see any industry shut down if there is a good chance to meet air quality standards," he said.
The controversy is partly based on Geneva's inability to meet an EPA-imposed "PM10 standard." That standard cannot be met, according to Joe Cannon, president of Geneva Steel, because the state has not formulated a plan for meeting the standards.
The PM10 standard is violated when more than 150 particles smaller than a micron are counted in a cubic meter of air during one day.
Nielson said the state should move quickly to enact a plan to assist Geneva in meeting the standards.