Letter: Breathing bad air

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  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 8:50 p.m.

    2 Bits:

    I agree with your last post. Regulation and sacrifice will be required of everyone.

    Most of the pollution comes from automobiles. We need to increase emission standards for cars in Utah, which will not be cost-free. During high pressure systems (which lead to inversions), the speed limit on freeways should be reduced, which will reduce emissions and increase cognizance of the car part of the problem. Maybe we should have a variable gas tax, increasing the cost of gas during inversions as a disincentive to drive during inversions.

    Everything above is disproportionately on individuals.

    On the industrial side, maybe we need to mandate reduced emissions during inversions, which would mean reduced production, which will incentivize refineries to look at other locations.

    Maybe the state can offer tax incentives for them to move to more geographically acceptable locations. Some in the Legislature want to move the prison. I say let's make it a package deal - prison & the refineries.

    I hope you're right, and more of our traditionally conservative population is ready to take more aggressive measures to mitigate the air pollution problem.

    I'm ready to sacrifice, personally. We all need to.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    I know the solution will require more regulations. We already have regulations (EPA, oxygenated gas, etc), so why would I assume absolutely any regulation is unacceptable?

    But the new regulations need to be on ALL of us (not just evil refineries, or evil factories, or evil capitalists). It needs to be on all of us. When we can accept that... and not just assume that it's just the refinery's fault... we can make some progress and quit pretending it's a partisan or political issue, or a Conservative vs Liberal issue. It's not. If we can get away from constantly framing it that way... we will quit sabotaging the conversation.


    Unleaded switch was a LONG time ago. People have changed. And it was not only opposed by "Conservatives". A LOT of people didn't support it. So pretending all Conservatives opposed it (which isn't true). And assuming only "Conservatives" opposed it (also not true)... just poisons the conversation with partisan stereotype-based assumptions (and ends all possibility of success).

    We need to keep the politics and the stereotypes for people out of it.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 11, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Without going to extremes, conservatives have historically resisted every attempt to regulate our air quality. That makes it a political issue for the rest of us. I will make a bet with you. Watch what happens with the legislature this year--you will see fervent right-wing opposition to ANY legislation to clean up the air. If not, I will eat my newspaper. If so, you will eat yours.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    2 bits:

    I appreciate your apparent willingness to de-politicize this issue.

    Inevitably, our ability to take action on this issue will involve regulation. I don't think there's any escaping this reality. As Texas has shown, "voluntary environmental regulation" is meaningless, just as if we suddenly made tax contributions for the military to be entirely voluntary, we would see a rapid devolution in military capability.

    Addressing the air pollution issue will require sacrifice by many. Our cars need more stringent emission control, speed limits on the freeways during inversion should be lowered, there need to be incentives to take mass transit, and the industrial portion of the problem will need to be restricted, certainly more than they'd like to be.

    In my experience, getting the anti-government part of our populace to accept that industry will need to be more regulated is a significant hurdle.

    Hopefully we can learn from the past.

    The revolt in 1972 against the EPA for requiring unleaded gasoline is a good example to learn from.

    Is America less free now because of unleaded gas? Of course not. We're now *better* off.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 6:47 a.m.

    I read a little about sweet potatoes and how smokers lived to be in their 90's eating them. I thought I give them a try, since it should cure emphysema.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 6:16 a.m.

    What we have here is a conflict of values -- "clean air" versus "freedom." Addressing clean air requires infringing on people's perceptions of "loss of freedom" to deal with that issue... but in Utah, freedom in a higher-order value compared to environmental issues. Environmental issues will always take a back seat to higher-order values of "wealth and business," "preventing gay marriage," "shutting down the evil government," etc.

    Now, "children and families" are a higher-order value for Utahns. If children are brought into the narrative -- that somehow we're trying to clean the air for our children and future generations -- then we may see some traction here.

    I've read elsewhere that Utah is losing business opportunities due to our bad air. What we need, however, is to find a link on how our air quality is hurting beloved industries in the state -- such as oil, coal, skiing, agriculture, etc. If those were part of the narrative, it would indeed encourage our legislature to act.

    What's needed is a series of stories about wanted businesses that have decided NOT to come to Utah due to our air quality.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 3:48 p.m.

    I think we all appreciate clean air. Spare us the smug self-righteousness.

    Conservatives aren't against all government regulation. But taking everything to the most ludicrous extreme possible probably gets bonus point with the people you're talking too.

    Remember... "this isn't a political thing"... so quit trying to make it into one.

    It's not a Conservative vs Liberal thing. So don't try to frame it that way.

    Neither side has a corner on all the answers. So listening and sharing ideas would be more productive than just attacking your perceived opposition.

    We need to quit knee-jerk assuming everything's a Conservative VS Liberal thing. We all live on the same planet. And a lot of us live in the same valley. We should try talking about something constructive (instead of the usual ad hominem blather).

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    The answer to the question is that many conservatives view *any* type of government regulation as anathema, the killing of freedom.

    When I was a kid in Utah, people were up in arms about the evil feds mandating that we all use unleaded gasoline. Or mandating that people use seatbelts. Today those stalwarts of freedom would very, very begrudgingly admit that reducing lead emissions has had a beneficial effect for children.

    "Freedom" for them means the freedom to die an early death from pollution, as long as the government is not involved. "Give me liberty, or give me death," except the rest of us and minor children are along for the ride, too.

    The rest of us view clean air and water as a type of freedom.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 1:11 p.m.

    To "Pagan" those are nice tidbits, but they don't convey the whole story.

    First, the studies that link strokes and dimensia include areas that have high year round pollution rates. While not the worst, they do have higher rates.

    You are also not telling the whole story about the coal plants. None are located in the Salt Lake Valley, they are located in areas that are not bowls, and do not trap the particulates from it. In the Salt Lake valley the power plants are all gas fired, which emits few pollutants.

    Then finally, who cares about how much CO2 is released. It isn't a pollutant, nor has it been proven to be a significant greenhouse gas.

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    RE: "Bad air is not a political issue"...

    That is correct. Why make it one?

    Nobody "wants" bad air. And nobody's "against" improving our air. The only difference is our level of radicalization. Some people think if you aren't as radical on environmentalism as they are... you "Want" bad air. If you don't agree with their solution, or draw the line differently... you "want" dirty air. The dirtier the better. That's just bogus rhetoric and talking points talkin.


    Removing refineries from the valley is probably not feasible (but if you disagree with that approach you "want" bad air).

    Say something we CAN do... like drive less... and you "wanting" bad air.


    You hit on one viable alternative. Moving out of the area. That is feasible because it's something we can actually do (removing the refineries isn't). And it addresses the real source of the problem (the population in the valley).

    The refineries have always been here. Inversions have always been here. It's the growing population in the valley thats changing. So one possible solution would be for some people who don't like it here to move out of the valley.

  • Jeff Bowles Salt Lake, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 11:55 a.m.

    The premise of your argument is absurd. NOBODY wants dirty air. You are a perfect example of the problem. Unless you don't own a car, heat/cool your home, or use any electricity, then your family is a NET addition to the problem. So how would like us to offset that? Should twenty families that were already here reduce their lifestyles even more to accommodate your family? Now multiply that by the thousands of new families that have moved to the valley. How about you deal with the real world. We have to completely offset their pollution just to stay even let alone reduce it. I'm very aware of my energy usage and have done all I can to conserve. Industry/business are being asked to meet increasingly stringent standards at great costs. Once again I ask, did the head of air quality for Utah not tell us the truth when he said that our has gotten better every year for the last 20 years? Pretending that you're more concerned than anybody else adds nothing to finding a solution.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:57 a.m.

    'I don't want to leave but I might have to make that choice based on what is healthy for my family.' - Letter

    And with good reason:

    'Study says coal burning in Utah kills 202 a year' - AP - Published by DSNews - 10/19/10
    'SALT LAKE CITY — A study commissioned by Utah state agencies says air pollution kills 202 residents a year.'

    *Studies link air pollution to increased risk of strokes and dementia’ – by Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret news – 02/15/12

    The poison in Utah affects everyone. Not just based on political party.

    What saddens me is that Utah leadership factually does very little to change anything. When we have examples of what the actual source is:

    *'EPA inventory shows Utah's sources of greenhouse gas' - By Amy Joi O'Donoghue - 02/05/13 - Published by the Deseret News

    'WASHINGTON — The nation's power plants continue to be the single largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new information released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.'
    In Utah, 14 power plants are responsible for 75 percent of the state's direct greenhouse gas emissions, releasing 33 million metric tons. '

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    IMO breathing bad air is better than NOT breathing it. I mean one kills you for sure, the other probably won't.

    Leaving the State if they won't do it your way is also an option.

    It's actually a very good step in the right direction. Because population in the valley is a big part of problem. The inversions didn't just start happening. But the more people/drivers we have in the valley... the worse it gets. So if less people would transplant themselves here, or if some people would leave... the situation would get a little better. And that's what we want... right?

    We could all decide to drive a little less too... that wouldn't "fix" it, but it would help.

    Or we could pretend we can banish all the refineries, factories, mines, and manufacturing from the valley... and even though we could never do that... it at least makes us feel better to insist that it's the solution.