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
By: Emma Penrod
April 18, 2017
Salt Lake City now ranks among the worst U.S. cities for ozone and particulate pollution, a new report says.
The Salt Lake metro area, including Provo and Orem, was the 20th worst city for elevated concentrations of ozone, according to the American Lung Association's latest State of the Air Report, which ranks and grades cities and counties by the number of days their air is deemed "unhealthy" under standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Based on air quality readings between 2013 and 2015, the ozone ranking is the worst ever received by a Utah city in the report's history, said Michael Siler, a Midvale resident and Utah representative on a regional board for the American Lung Association.
here were no Utah cities in the national top 25 for ozone last year. Given the effects of ozone exposure, particularly on young people, Siler said he didn't understand why more Utahns aren't alarmed about rising levels of the pollutant.
"I don't know why people aren't just beside themselves about the air quality," he said.
... To read the full article, please click here...
Good morning on a lovely spring day in the Salt Lake Valley.
It's that time of year when we let you know how your State Legislators voted on clean air and clean energy bills this past session. Sorry it's taken a few weeks to get these out: It's a surprising amount of work to tabulate votes on more than a dozen bills from more than 100 legislators.
Click here to see the full grades (listing marks here for 104 legislators would be too much) but here's a quick recap.
The bills we tabulated are ones you likely recall from the session. There were bills we supported which limited emissions from diesel vehicles or defended rooftop solar, and bills we opposed, one making it harder to limit the hazards of wood smoke. Those, plus others affecting our air and our climate, formed the basis of these grades.
So how did the legislature do? Well, there was a tremendous range, including lots of As and plenty of Fs. The average member of the House got a C+, while the average Senator a B-.
HEAL is a nonpartisan organization: We don't endorse candidates or any particular political party. But, we would point out that generally Democrats did do better than Republicans. However, plenty of Republicans did receive As and Bs, demonstrating that support for clean air and clean energy does thankfully often cross partisan lines.
So, the most important part of this is where you get to see how your representatives voted, so click here to find that out! And if you have any questions about the grades, please email our policy director Ashley Soltysiak at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me tell you about a few other developments here at HEAL.
First, we would like to thank everyone who donated to HEAL during the statewide giving competition Love Utah Give Utah. We are again delighted to report that HEAL performed very well and every gift made a difference! We received nearly 400 donations and ended up in 3rd place in our giving category, which includes very popular animal organizations (Woof!). The result earned us an additional $1,250.
So, thank you! We are humbled by the support of so many of you raising nearly $20k. If you didn't get a chance to give last Thursday, please click here to support HEAL.
Okay, now on to some important notes.
- First, if you or anyone you know is interested in applying for a HEAL Utah summer internship, there's only a few more days to do so. We are hiring several interns this summer to support our grassroots and policy work. Applications are due this coming Sunday April 16! Click here for more info.
- Next, HEAL has been quoted in many news stories recently about major developments in our key campaigns and we wanted to draw your attention to a few of those. First, when governor Herbert signed HB65, that bad wood smoke bill, HEAL expressed dismay, especially given the opposition to the bill from the independent Air Quality Board. As Ashley told the Salt Lake Tribune, "It's baffling that Gov. Herbert ignored the advice of the diverse panel of air quality experts he appointed. The message this new law sends is it's open season for deep-pocketed businesses who want to gut air quality policy."
- However, we also gave the Governor credit when he vetoed HB11, the bill that would have made it so that our key environmental boards could have been stocked with members of just one party. We appreciate the Governor's decision to not sign into law that particular bill, as we told Fox 13.
- Next, when Rocky Mountain Power released its plan last week for how it plans to get electricity over the next 20 years, HEAL reacted strongly tothe utility's decision to ignore the federal "regional haze" ruling requiring it to clean up its coal power plants (see SL Trib coverage). We also highlighted its decision to keep those plants burning for another 20 or 30 years (see Deseret News coverage). The utility did commit to installing some more wind and solar, which is a positive step in the right direction, but it's dedication to burning dirty coal for decades longer is unacceptable.
- Speaking of unacceptable things, let's turn to President Trump, who announced two weeks ago that his administration would eliminate President Obama's signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan. The president did so claiming he was looking to bring back coal jobs, which we pointed out in the Deseret News aren't coming back. "President Trump and his allies have to choose between pretending they can bring coal back — or getting to the hard work of actually figuring out how to help rural communities suffering from major economic shifts,” Pacenza said.
On all these issues, HEAL is proud to be your voice, fighting for public health and the environment.
Thank you so much for everything you do. We look forward to keeping you updated on our campaigns and the weeks and months to come.
Save the Date!
HEAL's Spring Breakfast is coming up quick! We'll be sharing details on tickets and our speaker (a former EPA official) very soon, but, for now, mark Thurs. May 18 down in your calendar.Read more...
By Judy Fahys
April 1, 2017
A new state law allows cooking with wood, even when winter smog makes northern Utah’s air unhealthy. Now new scientific data shows that wood-burning turns out to be a bigger part of the problem than anyone realized.
The state’s Air Quality Board hadn’t asked a governor to veto a bill in a decade until HB65. Lawmakers had passed it to block state regulators from restricting barbecuing, smoking and other cooking with wood.
“Air quality, the environment is a big deal for me,” said Gov. Gary Herbert during a recent KUED-Channel 7 news conference. He was sympathizing with the Air Quality Board but also defending what he called positive steps made on air quality in this year’s legislative session.
... to read the full article, please click here...Read more...