Utah County officials don't want Salt Lake County pushing its air problems past Point of the Mountain, and the ramifications of that problem air onto Utah County residents.
Utah County officials believe that Salt Lake County will try to include part of Utah County in its non-attainment area for ozone. Doing so would mean some Utah County resident would have to live with restrictions put on non-attainment areas by the Environmental Protection Agency.Commissioner Jerry Grover says he's hearing feedback from people who've attended recent state air quality meetings that indicates Salt Lake County wants to redraw the maps for the State Implementation Plan. The proposal would add part of Utah County to the ozone non-attainment area.
"It's my understanding they're going to approach the board (of air quality) for a boundary change," he said.
In the August Utah County Clean Air Commission meeting Tuesday, Grover said county exceedances of the federal ozone standard are within acceptable levels and there's no reason to link with Salt Lake County, except to give Salt Lake County the opportunity to benefit from the association.
"Utah County is being offered on the Salt Lake sacrificial altar just for credits," Grover said.
Currently Utah County is within ozone attainment levels while Salt Lake County is not. Grover said he's willing to sue if necessary to stop the effort to pull Utah County into the non-attainment area.
"There's no other reason with no actual data to support expansion (of the non-attainment area boundary)."
Grover said he understands some politicians believe there's enough exchange in ozone between the two counties to warrant merging them into one non-attainment area.
Ralph Clegg, a Utah County Health department official, said actually the move is toward including the entire Wasatch Front as non-attainment, therefore giving more options for obtaining credits and expanding the area of control.
The state Air Quality Board defines a non-attainment area as one that does not meet or contributes to the non-attainment of a nearby area, Clegg said.
"Somehow we need proof of our influence (into Salt Lake County), which I don't think there is," Grover said. "It's ridiculous, especially after only one year of data collection."
Grover also pointed out that the summer of 1998 cannot be considered a normal year of collection either because the temperatures have been extraordinarily high.
"Ozone is a sunshine phenomenon," he said.
"There's a reason (non-attainment) is based on a three-year standard," said Clegg. "It seems odd to implement a lot on control strategies based on one year."
Members of the Clean Air Commission said they believe the pollution exchange is more likely from Salt Lake County into Utah County and not the reverse.
Of three monitors operating in Utah County, the Highland monitor showed eight exceedances between May 1 and July 31 of 1998. The north Provo monitor showed three and the Spanish Fork monitor showed one.
One Salt Lake County monitor, located in the Cottonwood area, recorded 10 exceedances.
An exceedance is defined as a reading above 0.085 parts per million during an eight-hour period. During the test period, Utah's 11 ozone monitoring sites recorded a total of 57 separate exceedances at 10 of the sites.
Commissioner Gary Herbert said he believes the county would be prudent to be proactive in implementing various control strategies but not so much as to leave nothing to be done if controls are mandated.
Grover said he's afraid that even if some control is imposed on Utah County, Salt Lake County may still fail to meet standards. Then, Utah County will have exhausted its options for an easy fix.
"This is way premature," Grover said.
The commission hopes to discuss the issue with the Air Quality Board at its Sept. 2 meeting.