It’s no exaggeration to state that air pollution has become the dominant environmental issue in northern Utah over the past few years. When the smoggy inversions we all dread settle into northern Utah’s urban valleys, our levels of fine particle pollution (PM 2.5) reach “unhealthy” for everyone, before the weather changes and the toxic funk lifts.
Utah is officially “out of attainment” with federal Clean Air Act guidelines limiting PM2.5 pollution. Those are tiny particles of dust and pollutants which burrow deep into our lungs and even enter our blood and organs, harming the health of our children and families. It’s a problem most noted in mid-winter, when soot builds up in our valleys, as weather stagnates. Increasingly though, our invisible summertime ozone problem is mounting and will also cause our state to fail to meet federal air quality standards in this respect as well.
Emissions from our cars, homes, businesses and industry are all responsible, driving levels of fine particle pollution well above safe levels. We at HEAL believe that there is no one answer to the dirty air that plagues our valleys. We must clean up our cars and trucks and encourage people to ride transit, bicycle and walk more. However, we also need to make our buildings, homes and businesses as efficient and clean as possible, limiting the pollution they emit. And, lastly, we need to make sure that heavy industry does everything it can to reduce pollution, rather than the modest cuts it has put in place recently.
Beginning in 2012, HEAL began working hard to urge state officials to do more to clean the air. Thousands of Utahns have joined us, participating in online actions sending strong messages to policymakers, attending historic rallies on the steps of the Capitol, and packing hearings where key air quality decisions are made.
We’ve pushed for state support of federal gas and car standards, advocated for more funding for monitoring equipment, encouraged the Division of Air Quality to require deeper emissions cuts, particularly to industrial pollution, and also worked hard behind the scenes with state legislators to develop dozens of air quality measures.
To learn more about that work, check out the video we made in 2013! “Smog Attack!”
In just a few years, Clean Air has become one of our core issues. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished – and know that with your support we’ll continue to do everything we can to make our beautiful valleys safe for everyone.
Recent Posts about Clean Air…
Salt Lake Tribune
In our world where ‘alternative facts’ hold water and scientific evidence is pushed to the side, it is paramount that our state policymakers weed through the noise and identify critical information to support strong policies.
Utah policymakers can generally be commended for doing so successfully. In fact, earlier this year, Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation found Utah to be one of the top five states in the country for evidence-based policymaking.
So, it is concerning when Utah legislators invite a scientist to speak whose credibility and scientific integrity have been continually questioned by his own academic peers.
To read more, click here.Read more...
September 10, 2017
By the end of August, before wildfire smoke began to billow throughout Weber County, Sara Findlay had already been to the doctor three times to treat upper respiratory infections for her asthma.
Then fires began lighting up throughout the West, including the Uintah Fire, just miles from the 24-year-old’s Riverdale home.
“I've had to leave work early to go to urgent care. I've been on my way to work and (had to) turn around to go to the hospital,” she said.
Findlay is still on her parent’s insurance, but last week she went to her doctor twice and shelled out $350 in medical bills and prescriptions, all because of the smoke, she said.
Read more here.
Thanks for tuning in this week! We’re now moving away from the Summer season, but that doesn’t mean things are cooling down in HEALLand. In fact, we have some big things going on, including a clean air victory, a community night with our allies at Friends of the Great Salt Lake, and the wrapping up the summer outreach season. But first, let’s break down what exactly happened at the Salt Lake City Council last week.
Big Win for Clean Air and Energy Efficiency - The SLC Benchmarking & Transparency Ordinance PASSED!
For those of you in Salt Lake City, we want to say a big THANK YOU for showing support for the SLC Building Benchmarking and Market Transparency Ordinance! With your help, the Salt Lake City Council voted to adopt this ordinance last Tuesday, August 29, makingSalt Lake one of the national front-runners in establishing energy efficiency measures for big buildings. This ordinance will require large buildings (over 25,000 sq ft) to benchmark, or measure, their energy usage using free software provided by Rocky Mountain Power and Dominion Energy. These tools will provide data to building owners to help them determine whether energy efficiency upgrades make sense for them, potentially saving them money and many kilowatts of wasted energy. Of course, we also like theimportant side-benefit of improved air quality that more efficient buildings provide!
We have been told from many people closely involved in the process that your voice, as citizens of SLC, were instrumental for city council members to hear and helped solidify their vote in favor of this innovative initiative. However, that doesn’t mean that there were no voices in opposition. In fact, there have been threats of taking this vote to the legislature, potentially limiting the power of the city to implement it. We will be following this closely, and will keep you updated on any developments that may hinder progress of energy efficiency in SLC.
In the meantime, thank you to those who took the time to use our action alert and allowed your voice to be heard supporting EE, air quality and the environment! Also, let's all take a minute to thank our City Council Representatives who made energy efficiency a priority, shoot them an email or call!
US Magnesium & Air Quality Community Night on Wednesday, September 13th at 6:30 PM at the Marmalade Library- Presented by HEAL Utah, Friends of the Great Salt Lake, & University of Utah Researchers.
US Magnesium is a facility on the southwest shore of the Great Salt Lake in Tooele County that produces magnesium, alloy magnesium, and chlorine. As with most extractive industries, the facility produces a lot of waste that can be toxic for humans, animals, and ecosystems, with potentially far-reaching impacts. The facility also holds the distinction of being a federal Superfund Site, making it a target for clean up by the Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
HEAL Utah and Friends of the Great Salt Lake are concerned about the environmental impacts of US Magnesium, particularly how the facility impacts air quality in Northern Utah. We would like you to join us and researchers from the University of Utah to discuss the community-health risk factors, environmental impact, and the evaluation of the clean up process thus far.
Learn more about Friends of the Great Salt Lake's work on US Magnesium and the Community Night on our Facebook Page. Invite your friends, too!
Dozens of you have joined us at Farmers Markets, Arts Festivals and community gatherings this summer and we couldn’t be more grateful. If you haven’t had the chance to volunteer yet, follow this link to our sign up form
or call the office anytime during office hours. Remaining opportunities include
- SLC: The Avenues Street Fair, Saturday September 9th
- SLC: The Hispanic Heritage Parade and Street Festival, Saturday, September 23rd at The Gateway. Both Spanish and English speakers are welcome!
- Moab: Moab Pride Festival, Saturday September 30th, at Swanny City Park
- Logan: The Cache Valley Gardners Market, Saturday October 7th
- Murray: Wheeler Farmers Market, Sunday, October 15th
Last But Not Least.... A Save The Date!
HEAL, alongside Utah Physicans for a Healthy Environment and Sierra Club will be hosting a unique networking and workshop event focusing on climate change, storytelling, and YOU!
Climate Matters - The Power of Personal Narrative
Wednesday, October 11th
Clubhouse - 6:00-9:00 PM
With Sierra Club, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, HEAL
Join us for this Utah Climate Week event as we network and create our personal narrative on why climate matters for each of us, Wednesday, October 11th Clubhouse (850 E S Temple, SLC, UT 84102): 6:00-9:00 PM We will have brief presentation and workshop instruction by Giuliana Serena, one of the curators of The Bee. This will be followed by breakout sessions to share, practice, and refine our narratives. Finally, participants will be invited to record their stories.
As always, follow HEAL to keep up with for all air quality, clean energy, and community health updates!
Power to the People!
Noah E. Miterko | HEAL UtahRead more...