Some of the most important venues for trying to improve Utah’s air are little-known regulatory bodies like the Division of Air Quality and the Air Quality Board. Both play a critical role in doing everything from monitoring pollution, and planning on how to limit it, to making the rules that businesses and industries have to follow.
Building on our experience and success in lobbying entities that work on nuclear waste, HEAL began in 2012 to focus on these clean air bodies as a piece of trying to limit Wasatch Front air pollution.
HEAL’s Clean Air Regulatory Success Stories:
- We brought a package of rules to the Air Quality Board to close loopholes that allow excess industrial pollution. These complex but critical measures have the potential to make a real difference in improving the air we breathe. Although the rules were ultimately not put out for public comment, they are being utilized by the Division of Air Quality in the development of the next State Implementation Plan targeting PM2.5 pollution.
- We built support for proposed federal regulations limiting pollution from cars and trucks – called Tier 3 standards – which may ultimately reduce pollution from the biggest source of Wasatch Front dirty air by half. Not only did we get more than 1,100 Utahns to tell the EPA they backed tougher standards on car and truck emissions, but so did Republican state legislators and Gov. Gary Herbert himself! You read that right: One of America’s most conservative, pro-business, anti-regulation Governors wrote a letter to the EPA asking for tough environmental regulations.
- We successfully encouraged thousands of Utahns to urge the Division of Air Quality to improve their plan to cut PM2.5 pollution. More than 2,600 comments were sent to regulators, urging deeper emissions cuts, particularly to industrial pollution. In addition, HEAL staff prepared detailed comments urging a host of specific pollution controls, including safeguards specific to polluting refineries developed by an expert we contracted.
Our work strives to push Utah’s air quality regulators to do more. We will continue to provide detailed comments on upcoming permit applications and proposed Division of Air Quality rules — like those governing fugitive dust. We will also work to protect important rules already passed by the Air Quality Board — like this architectural coatings rule that helps reduce emissions from the building sector — from special interest groups who seek to undermine our regulations to increase their profit margins.
Recent Posts about Clean Air Regulation…
Maya L. Kapoor
High Country News
March 14th, 2018
In Utah, the Wasatch Range forms a bowl holding Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities, where the majority of Utahns live. Each winter, a warm temperature layer known as an inversion seals the bowl shut, trapping in dangerous levels of air pollution. The gas that comes from smoke stacks and tailpipes reacts with sunlight, forming ground-level ozone, also called smog, which has long been known to cause childhood asthma and premature deaths. Some tree species also struggle to survive when smog levels get too high, says Seth Johnson, a staff attorney with the environmental advocacy nonprofit Earthjustice. “They don’t grow as well as they did. Some of them will have their leaves blacken, which is a blight.” Other Western cities such as Los Angeles and Denver, as well as more rural areas, also struggle with smog problems.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency set tighter restrictions on the levels of smog allowed in the country, which should have gone into effect by the fall of 2017. But the EPA, under the Trump administration, has delayed implementing them. That has become a common strategy at Scott Pruitt’s EPA: When it comes to enacting new environmental regulations, the agency stalls.
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March 12th, 2018
Over the past few years, momentum has been building to make cities a focus of climate change action. “Although they cover less than 2 percent of the earth’s surface, cities consume 78 percent of the world’s energy,” reports the UN, “and produce more than 60 percent of all carbon dioxide and significant amounts of other greenhouse gas emissions.”
But there’s a problem: there’s a lot we don’t know about emissions in cities, because the ability to detect emissions on local, fine-grained scales is a relatively recent development. This technology is improving steadily, and this week, a paper in PNAS reports results from a detailed analysis of Salt Lake City. Its findings add to growing evidence that dense urban populations, rather than suburban sprawl, has an important role to play in climate action.
A one-of-a-kind case study
Salt Lake City has an emissions sensor network that is ahead of the game. There have been urban CO2 monitoring projects in Pasadena and Heidelberg (Germany) for more than 10 years, but only at a single location in each city. That makes it impossible to get a multi-faceted picture of how emissions vary across the different spaces in the city.
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Salt Lake Tribune
February 7th, 2018
Dealing with Utah air pollution has always been an expensive proposition, but several lawmakers want the state to fund more air-quality research — and they’d like to see some polluting motorists pay up, as well.
Legislators meeting on Utah’s Capitol Hill have thus far proposed just under a dozen air-quality bills, most of which focus on emissions from cars. They’ve also requested money be set aside to hire more staff for the overburdened state Division of Air Quality, where work is piling up as regulators struggle to find ways for Utah to comply with federal air-quality standards.
Lawmakers from both parties are seeking more than $350,000 to create three new job positions — with backing from Bryce Bird, director of the state Division of Air Quality.
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