Utah activists call on lawmakers to address air quality

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  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 12:20 p.m.

    To "Pagan" unfortunately those stories don't really explain the air in Utah.

    However, if you looked at the source of the data going back to the EPA report, Utah has short-term problems, not long term problems. Why look at long term solutions for short term problems?

    If the air is bad for a few days, will that cause long term problems, or just a mild annoyance?

    Go look at the EPA, and look at which cities have the worst year round pollution. You will not find Utah in the top 10.

    To "BYU Track Star" LA has improved, but it is still #2 for cities with the worst year-round pollution.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 11:29 a.m.

    @NedGrimley: the gas tax simply has to go up. It hasn't kept up with inflation, it doesn't cover even 1/3 of road construction costs, and it doesn't do anything to help road users pay the other costs of their driving esp. congestion and pollution. The huge effective subsidy to drivers distorts incentives. If you change people's incentives to better reflect the real costs to society, they will make wiser decisions.

    Greg Mankiw, Romney's chief economic adviser, strongly supports phasing in an additional $1/gallon tax, as do most economists all across the political spectrum. Raising the gas tax would allow us to lower the taxes on productive activity (income, payroll).

    Unfortunately it's hard to gather the political will for that third rail.

    Other considerations: we should be using a cleaner fuel blend in winter (right now the feds mandate cleaner fuel in summer but not in winter, and refineries all retool twice a year to sell the few-cents-cheaper dirty stuff in winter), we should be putting more thought into urban planning and development to enable people to live near where they work and shop, and we should improve public transit.

  • whyisthat Clinton, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    So here is some verifiable information that may help this discussion.

    1. Industry contributes to a very low percentage of pollution per year. The EPA heavily mandates and tracks the emissions from all industrial sources. These mandates have created an effort in industry to regulate these emissions very stringently. Industry is HEAVILY fined if they do not meet the guidelines and are rewarded if they exceed them.

    2. Industry creates far more emissions when there are process upsets. To shutdown and start up industry in a short time you will create up 5 times the amount of emissions than you would just running these sites as tightly as they do now.

    3. Who in this valley is willing to sell their homes and move to an apartment or condo closer to where they work? Mass transit doesn't work in the majority of the western US because we're too spread out. I use the Frontrunner on a consistent basis only because I'm in the minority of those in which it is as convenient to do so as it is to drive my car.

  • RR_Xing San Diego, CA
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    Clearly something must be done! Here are some ideas:
    1. Tear down the mountains so that pesky pollution doesn't have a valley to accumulate in.
    2. Excavate Toole/Grantsville (or maybe Park City, since it is downwind) so that their elevation is low enough all the pollution gets trapped there, instead of the Salt Lake valley.
    3. Advertise the problem far and wide with as much fanfare as possible. Once enough people have been driven away by the bad air things should improve.
    Good luck, Utah!

  • statman Lehi, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    First of all - SLC doesn't have a pollution problem, it has a major weather problem that causes a pollution problem a couple times a year. That said, when an inversion is present, woodsmoke is a major contributor to the smog in the valley. One house burning wood for heat puts out as much particulate pollution as several hundred homes burning gas or oil.

    We have no burn days in the summer, why not no-burn days in winter when there's an inversion?

    I know people like to get a fire going and keep the house warm for cheap, but cheap for those people comes at a cost to everyone else. Use natural gas or oil heat like evryone else. Or get a low-emission woodstove that uses expensive catalytic converter technology to remove a lot of the particulate matter woodburning spews into the air. However you want to deal with it, wood is a major problem when the weather is bad.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Jan. 30, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    As a young Baby Boomer I remember in the late 50s visiting my Grandparents in Montebello. A surburb in East Los Angeles. They had this strange structure in their backyard. My Father explained thats where Grandpa/Grandma burned their trash. If L.A. can solve its notorious smog problems with a booming population, its been a decades long battle. Certainly Northern Utah can do the same. Be grateful you don't have Bejing's Smog problems.

  • Cedarite Cedar City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    Speaking as a business owner, I would never relocate to SLC to choke on the filthy air. So those of you who think it's a reasonable price to pay as a sacrifice to business may not understand that filthy air drives away business owners who have no interest in breathing it.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    I know...let's tax everyone throughout the year to build up a no-pollute fund. Then on inversion days we can pay people to not pollute. We could give people money to stay at home and not drive their cars. We could pay Kennecott to shut down and pay their people to sit around and play cards. The air would be much cleaner.

    Even though that sounds like the typical liberal solution to a problem, they would never go for it because it would mean giving tax money to businesses like Kennecott. It's much better to lobby the government to punish polluters instead and build up yet another wealth re-distribution plan in which the bureaucrats and activists get more money and power.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    I'm curious to know what the suggestions are from those who are blaming those blasted Republicans for our annual inversions. What is it that you feel the all powerful Legislature should do .. be specific .. that would resolve the problem?

    I'm not trying to blow off the problem (excuse the pun based on my earlier post) I'm just interested to know if you have some serious suggestions, or is it just another reason to throw stones?

  • Big Bubba Herriman, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Let's start by banning diesel pick up trucks.

  • Russ Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    Yes, lets make a law to change the weather and prevent inversions. How about we build giant fans on Antelope island to blow the inversion out of the valley? Or, we could build a giant straw to space to suck out the bad air. Oh, Oh, I know, how about we build domed cities so we do not have to worry about inversions ever again?
    This winter inversion has been here since before the pioneers arrived in the 1840's. Are we to believe that the Utes were driving SUVs around but hid them when the Mormons showed up?

  • Deserthiker SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    I'm puzzled as to why we wait till the air quality gets bad before we declare a red day and ban wood burning etc. The weather patterns that trigger an inversion are well known and predictable. When we enter an inversion period, we should be doing all we can to lower emissions from day one of the inversion- not waiting till day two or three when the build up has reached toxic levels. When forecasts predict an extended inversion we should be adopting more extreme measures. Sorry, but if shutting down some industrial plants a few days every January results in better air quality for the million or so who live along the Wasatch Front, I'm all for it. We know the sources of air pollution during inversions, the question is do we have the will to do whatever is necessary to protect our health. A more concerted public effort to limit auto miles could be huge- we all drive and we all must breath the air- if everyone cut their mileage even 10% during inversions it would help. Instead, we complain about the air- then start the car and drive out as usual.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    @larry: yes, Kennecott and the refineries do contribute to the pollution, but if you compare to a dozen years ago, their particulate output has dropped substantially, Geneva Steel has shut down, but the smog has gotten much worse. The primary problem is rapidly increasing tailpipe emissions.

    We spend over a billion dollars every year on road construction in this state, less than a third of which comes from the gas tax. This tremendous government subsidy encourages inefficient development (urban sprawl, building new cities in the middle of nowhere rather than redeveloping underused land close to where the jobs are) and inefficient transportation choices (long single-occupant vehicle commutes). On top of that huge fiscal boondoggle, road users also don't bear the proportionate social costs of externalities, such as congestion and pollution, associated with their driving.

    Until road users bear the real costs of their driving, tailpipe emissions will continue to skyrocket.

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    Jan. 30, 2013 8:12 a.m.

    If Bangerter were still Governor, he could build giant fans to blow the inversion into the West desert.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2013 7:35 a.m.

    I was thinking: How about if we build some giant fans in the west desert to blow all the gunk out of the valley. We can then employ people and spend money to maintain them when we don't need them. giggles...

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Jan. 30, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    There isn't much hope for the Salt Lake Valley air pollution problem for a simple reason, much of the pollution comes from Kennecott's mining operation, and the refineries north of Salt Lake City. The Utah legislature has ZERO backbone when it comes to standing up to business.

    My wife, and I, both run small businesses and we are seriously considering relocating to get out of this toxic air!

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 11:32 p.m.

    Salt Lake City, Logan ranked among nation's worst for air pollution - BY JUDY FAHYS

    Northern Utah's spikes of wintertime pollution landed two cities on an American Lung Association 10-worst list for dirty air.

    MAY 1, 2008

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:55 p.m.

    Two Utah Cities Named Worst Air Quality In Country By EPA - 01/22/13

    The EPA releases a daily list of cities that have the worst air and Monday, Logan topped the list, followed by Provo, Utah.


    Utah cities named worst air quality in the country - 1/22/13


    For a little variety:

    Northern Utah's air is the worst in the nation - KSL


    How long will Utah's legislature do nothing...

    when Utah is named 'worst air in the nation', year after year after year...?

  • 2centsEM Eagle Mountain, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 10:19 p.m.

    Isn't much of this caused by a weather condition? Why don't we just legislate the weather? Of course there are some things we all could do to decrease the air pollution. I'm not sure the state government halting industrial work is the way to go. I'm not sure making mass transit free would even make that much of a difference. Mass transit is already cheaper for many people than driving themselves, but it's just not as convenient as having your own vehicle so people don't use it that much. I'm just not exactly sure what these groups are expecting the legislature to do that will actually be effective.

  • Tom Gillilan LONG BEACH, CA
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:44 p.m.

    With the air pollution from burning wood for just one night equivalent to the air pollution from driving a car for an entire year, it is rather obvious that people who burn wood to heat their homes and charcoal to cook their meals are making an inordinate and unwelcome contribution to air pollution here in SLC and should be assessed a stiff pollution penalty if not an outright ban.

    From a health perspective, wood smoke pollution is the elephant in the valley nobody wants to talk about. You will never have healthy breathing air in SLC without eliminating ALL wood and charcoal smoke. Wood smoke has now been proven to increase mortality rates and shorten life spans especially in men.


  • srw Riverton, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:43 p.m.

    According to a website run by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, a concentration of particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air of 55.5 microgram per cubic meter or more is unhealthy. Last week the concentration in Utah and Salt Lake Counties reached well over 100 on that scale.

    The story also mentions that our pollution problem can be an obstacle to Utah's economic development.

    So I'm a left-wing extremist now because I want to avoid health problems and promote economic development?

    Mr Spring also wrote "Those who truly care about the future of this State will be watching, and will not forget."

    I agree with him about that!

  • A runners View SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:22 p.m.

    I agree that inversion is a bad problem in Utah. This directly affects how i run. I think that some of the things mentioned in the article were a bit extreme however, like not using snow blowers or four wheelers to shovel snow. I personally use a shovel, but thats just because I am too cheap to buy a four wheeler.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:05 p.m.

    This is a true test of what the Legislature is made of. Will its members have the courage to stand up to the bullying by left-wing extremists, or will they wilt like a daisy in the desert? Those who truly care about the future of this State will be watching, and will not forget.