Blog: Western Resource Advocates Discusses Clean Air Rules

Our friends at Western Resource Advocates recently posted a blog about the clean air rules that they proposed with HEAL and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment at the Air Quality Board meeting on Oct. 7, 2015. Read below!

New Rules on Industry Proposed to Clean Utah Air

By Joan Clayburgh
Western Resource Advocates
Oct. 19, 2015

Western Resource Advocates, along with partners at Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and HEAL, proposed four new rules to reduce industrial air pollution in Utah.

Telling kids to not play outside or fearing your elderly friends and family will die because of bad air quality is not acceptable. But sadly that is the reality for 40 days of the year on average in the Wasatch Front of Utah. So rather than sit back and wait for the state or federal governments to propose stronger clean air action, Western Resource Advocates, along with partners at Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and HEAL, proposed four new rules to reduce industrial air pollution.

The four new rules presented October 7th 2015 to Utah’s Air Quality Board apply to industrial facilities such as power plants, oil refineries and cement plants. The new rules are needed to prevent bad air days, better enforce existing clean air laws, and ensure that emissions from new pollution sources are offset by emission reductions elsewhere.

For the past decade, the Wasatch Front’s air has failed to meet federal health standards. State officials have acknowledged that existing efforts to clean Utah’s air will be unlikely to comply with federal standards. And with Utah’s population projected to double in the coming decades, regulators need to reduce air pollution from all major sources. While it’s critically important to reduce pollution from cars and make buildings and homes more efficient, the state’s biggest industrial polluters also need to reduce pollution. Every substantial air pollution source should be on the hook to further reduce pollution.

“Adopting these rules will help us clean our air more quickly. Every day of bad air quality matters when it relates to the health of our children, the elderly and those with illnesses,” said Joro Walker, Senior Attorney and Utah Director at Western Resource Advocates. Joro helped write the new proposed rules and is an expert on federal and state air quality regulations.

Under Utah law, citizens and stakeholders can suggest new rules to strengthen state programs that protect public health. The rules were presented to the Air Quality Board for formal consideration and the Board may vote at its December meeting about whether to put the rules out for public comment. If the rules are considered, the Board would likely take a second vote several months later on whether to put the rules into effect.

The proposed new rules are summarized as follows:

  1. Prevent Bad Air Days:Impose 24-hour limits on our biggest industrial polluters to prevent short-term spikes in emissions, particularly on days with already impaired air quality.
  2. Require Daily Monitoring of Big Polluters:Mandate continuous emission monitoring and annual stack testing where feasible (vs every three to five years), so that state officials and the public have greater confidence that industry is not polluting more than it is allowed.
  3. Ensure All Substantial New Industry Pollution Increases Get Offset: Require facilities to find offsets (emission decreases) for all sizable emission increases, to ensure their overall pollution doesn’t add up to create major air pollution.
  4. Improve Public Participation Process:Extend comment periods and mandate key documents be made available for review at the start of comment periods, to make sure advocates and the public have the resources and time to offer meaningful feedback on important air quality decisions.

Western Resource Advocates is excited about this new strategy to pro-actively propose concrete, doable new rules to clean Utah’s air. The state agencies responsible for air quality have taken steps to address this issue but over a decade has passed without success. The health of all Utah residents should not have to suffer another decade of brown skies and unhealthy air when everyone has the right to go outside and breathe clean air.

To read original article, click here.


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