Clean Air

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.

The Issue

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.

Taking Action

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.


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Recent Posts about Clean Air…

Trump's Attack on the EPA

Greetings! There is plenty to update you about – from attacks on the EPA, to HEAL summer internships, to a final push to call Gov. Herbert to veto a bad air bill – but first, allow me to make a brief plea.

It’s just one week until the annual Love Utah, Give Utah celebration! This is the statewide day of giving during which Utahns can donate to their favorite charities.

It's also a friendly competition in which groups like HEAL are eligible to win prizes awarded to the nonprofits that recieve the highest number of donations.

And because we have such a dedicated base of supporters -- that means you! -- we've done very well in the competition in previous years. In fact, we've consistently finished in the top three and earned up to $10,000 in additional prizes, no small boon for HEAL! To see how we're doing, please join us to watch the leaderboards, alongside our nonprofits friends, on March 30 for our Love, Protect Utah party at Fisher Brewing.

So, you will get another email or two about this between now and Thursday, but Love Utah, Give Utah has started already: if you'd like to support HEAL and help us win even more funding, please click here to donate now. A gift of just $10 counts toward the competition! And we won't turn down bigger gifts either. Thanks!          

Disgust with DC

Like us, I'm sure, you're watching events out of Washington, DC with a mix of dread, outrage and befuddlement. It's hard to know where to start when it comes to reacting to the latest attack on public health and the environment from the President and EPA Administrator Pruitt, but certainly the proposal to slash the agency's budget by 30% is very worrisome.

If you'd like to read more about why we think that's a problem for Utah, and specifically a problem for air quality, please read the op-ed which I wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune a few weeks ago, "If Trump Hobbles the EPA, Utahns Lungs Will Pay the Price." Here's an excerpt:

Utah's representatives in Congress often put forth rhetoric about "EPA overreach" and the need for "greater local control." Those words might help them get elected, but if they don't stand up for the agency's staff and budget in the months to come, it's the health of Utah's families and our children who will pay the price.

We shared an action alert about this issue about a month ago, but if you didn't have a chance to let your US Senators and Representative know that you want them to protect the EPA's budget, please click here.

Become a HEAL Intern!

We are currently seeking interns for the summer of 2017! This year, we have created two separate internships. The first will help us with our outreach and education efforts, including tabling at fun summer events. The second will work with our policy staff on research and writing, supporting HEAL’s principle campaigns. So please forward this email or share the links with anyone who might be interested in a summer 2017 internship with HEAL Utah! Applications due April 10.

#Trypod: The HEAL Utah Podcast!

Incredibly, we have recorded 73 episodes of the HEAL Utah podcast since 2015. Many of you are listeners, which is gratifying. If you do listen to the podcast, we'd love to urge you to go to iTunes and rate and review the podcast, which will help us bring us a bigger audience. If you're not listening, here's a link to the page on our Website which has all 73 episodes. If you want to listen any on your computer or phone, just click on each episode title to do so.

Also, there's information on that page on how to subscribe so that each new episode automatically appears on your phone or other listening device. Do check it out! It's a great way to deepen your knowledge of HEAL and environmental issues in Utah. And you get to hear the sound of my voice every week, which is its own precious gift. I’m joking! (Or am I?)

Call for Veto

So, as many of you already know, Gov. Gary Herbert announced yesterday that he would sign one controversial bill from this past legislative session, to lower the threshold at which someone can be arrested for drunk driving.

He now just has a few more days to decide on the remaining bills and that includes HB65, the bill which could make it much easier for Utahns to burn wood even on the worst air days. So, the clock is ticking! And if you've not had a chance to call Governor Herbert and ask him to veto HB 65, now is your chance! Just call 801-538-1000 during business hours and tell whoever answers you'd like him to veto HB65. It literally takes less than a minute. Thank you! And here's a few links to some recent news coverage about our efforts to get this bill vetoed, in the Salt Lake Tribune in the Deseret News and on Fox 13.

OK, that’s enough for now! Stay tuned for more updates soon on our efforts to defend rooftop solar and plans for pushing for bolder clean air policies.

And please consider donating to HEAL via Love Utah, Give Utah!



HEAL Utah Executive Director


NEWS: Reviews mixed from environmental advocates on legislative action for clean air, water

The Salt Lake Tribune
Published Mar 11 2017


State regulators and environmental advocates praised Utah lawmakers' late approval of spending $1.3 million for new air quality sensors, but their reviews were otherwise mixed.

"Overall it was a somewhat disappointing session," said Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, a nonprofit that lobbies for clean air policy. "But we're grateful given the political context that we have some positive achievements to point to."

Though probably the most significant environmental issue of this year's session, the Division of Air Quality's request for air monitoring funding — $1.3 million one-time to upgrade the department's network and $150,000 ongoing for maintenance — did not draw approval until Wednesday, a day before the adjourning gavel fell.

Alan Matheson, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said the spending would repair the agency's aging air monitors, now unreliable and prone to periodic failure even during some of the state's worst seasonal pollution episodes.

... To read the full article, please click here...


NEWS: Air Quality Concerns With Bill Allowing Wood Burning to Cook

Published March 16, 2017
Associated Press/ US News


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A proposal passed by Utah state legislators that would allow wood burning for cooking on even the worst air quality days should be vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert to ensure the state is doing everything possible to combat the causes of murky winter air, an environmental group said Thursday.

Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, said at a news conference in Salt Lake City that the state has taken some important steps to improve air quality in recent years but population growth means Utah can't let up. The proposal is written too broadly and would allow for all kinds of wood burning so long as the people claim they're cooking.

"We need to look under every rock, as they say, to find ways to reduce emissions and solve our air quality problem," said Pacenza, who was flanked by supporters holding signs that read, "Clean Air Now."

Herbert's spokesman Paul Edwards said in a statement that the Republican governor is studying the issue and plans to meet with people on both sides in the coming week. He said the governor recognizes the importance of giving the Air Quality Board the authority to make decisions, but also understands the private sector's wanting "greater flexibility."

Hebert has until March 29 to sign or veto the bills the Legislature passed.

... To read the full article, please click here...




  1. Great post! Sadly, 80% of the population in the world is exposed to PM 2.5.

  2. I’d need to check with you here. Which is not a
    thing I usually do! I love reading a post which will
    make people think. Also, thanks for letting me to comment!

  3. I tried to sign up for updates to get involved but I
    After inputting all my info and submitting, I got an error. “page could not be found.”

  4. It is time to take A Stand! Wile we still can there is A trump,et blowing the charge for fossel fuels ,If we do not make our stand Sat 21,17 We may not be able to hold the small ground we have taken back,,,, Rusty Healey photography

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