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…
Believe it or not, Utah has been out of compliance for levels of a very hazardous pollutant (PM2.5) for nearly a decade (I bet you DO believe it). We've all seen the valleys fill with the grey-brown clouds for far too long.
Because of our air pollution problems, the State of Utah has been tasked with creating a crucially important plan to reduce emissions in the years to come. They've been working on developing this plan for months and the full plan is slated to be released in September or October. This means that the coming weeks are CRITICAL for urging officials to include bold, innovative policies. This “Serious State Implementation Plan” offers an opportunity to cut toxic PM2.5 emissions while also ensuring our communities and businesses thrive. The Clean Air Act requires Utah to take a long, hard look at any measure which any other state has adopted to clean up its air. There are many examples that could work in our state, like limiting wood smoke or implementing new technologies to reduce pollution from "heavy duty" and "non-road" trucks, buses, and equipment.
It's time to be bold.
The winter is right around the corner.
It's time to get Utah's PM2.5 pollution under control before the wintertime inversions set in.
Do you want to know more and be involved in the process of creating this plan? HEAL is hosting a Community Night this Wednesday that will be all about the State Implementation Plan and ways to nudge the Department of Environmental Quality to make decisions that will help us all breathe easier.
Please Join Us:
What: HEAL Utah Community Night: It's Time to Get Serious About the PM2.5 SIP!
Where: Marmalade Library, 280 W 500 N, Salt Lake City, UT 84103 (In the Multipurpose room)
When: 6:30pm, Wednesday, July 26th
Here's a link to the Facebook event if you'd like more information!
Want a say in the SIP process?
You're in luck! We've created an action alert so that YOU can contact the DEQ & Gov. Herbert and encourage the construction of an ambitious SIP.
Matt's Moving On; Become HEAL's New Executive Director
We're sad that Matt is leaving, but this opens an opportunity for YOU to become a part of the HEAL family. Applications Due August 14th. More Info Here »Read more...
Nearly all the news from Washington is alarming, but in the environmental domain new developments are particularly dreary. President Trump’s proposed 30 percent cuts to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is dangerous, and will have a particularly negative impact on the state of Utah.
The administration has recommended some policies with have the potential to damn Utah’s air quality – like eliminating the local air quality grant program, which provides a big source of funding to our local Division of Air Quality! If that makes you gasp –click here to fill out our action alert and tell your congressional representatives to stand up for the EPA and clean air!
I wrote an op-ed about Congress and clean air which appeared in yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune: I hope you check it out! In the article, I critique Sen. Orrin Hatch ‘s recent remarks about ozone regulations. He spoke against the EPA urging Utah to reduce dangerous ozone pollution, because of “the negative economic job killing consequences that come with it.” But ozone pollution isn’t just a problem with modeling or on paper; this is a problem that directly impacts the health and wellbeing of Utah families and our economic growth. This is a problem that literally kills dozens of Utahns every summer!
Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed:
The reality is that without action, Utah's ozone problem — a growing menace to our families in the summer — won't improve. And, ultimately, Utah's job growth will suffer if we don't take care of our environment and protect our communities.
This isn't the first time we've heard the type of tired rhetoric Hatch employed. For decades, now, every time new public health or environmental safeguards are proposed, industry and their allies claim these new regulations will push us to the brink of economic collapse, killing jobs and undermining economic development.
Let’s send Hatch and the other Utah elected officials a strong message that we demand clean air now! When you’re doing HEAL’s action, please feel free to customize your message so that it strikes a more personal note.
As always, we at HEAL will continue to fight for Utah’s right to clean air and a healthy environment.
Ashley Soltysiak | Policy DirectorRead more...
By Ashley Soltysiak
Published by the Salt Lake Tribune, Jun 24 2017
Amid fierce debate, the federal Environmental Protection Agency strengthened national ozone pollution standards in 2015. The move was billed by industry as one of the most expensive environmental regulations ever proposed, while public health and environmental advocacy groups argued that the new standard of 70 parts per billion wasn't protective enough of human health.
EPA science advisors had advocated for a standard between 60 and 70 parts per billion, preferring the lower end of that spectrum. Ultimately, the rule that the agency passed was weaker than what science dictated.
The public health data about ozone has been developed over many decades and is straightforward and compelling: It makes healthy people sick and causes the condition of sick people to worsen. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, ozone pollution has a "marked effect on human health" and "can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and cause lung diseases."
To read more, click here.Read more...