One of the key avenues for pushing to clean up our state’s coal power fleet is via a little-known but critical piece of the Clean Air Act called the “Regional Haze ” rule. Allow us to explain!
Beginning in 1990, when then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act amendments, the Enviornmental Protection Agency began to rein in the tiny but dangerous airborne pollution particles from man made sources. Coming from motor vehicles, electric utilities and industrial burning and manufacturing operations, this haze-inducing pollution is both the cause of reduced visibility in our national parks and also the instigator of serious health problems such as respiratory illness, decreased lung function and even premature death.
The EPA’s “Regional Haze” rule is designed to significantly reduce this pollution.
Not only will the EPA’s rule clean up the views around the West, including our beloved national parks, and benefit our health by limiting particulate pollution, but the rules are supported by a majority of Utahns.
Resistance To Change
While cleaning up our air and improving our health is overwhelmingly supported by Utahns, the new rule is being fought tooth and nail by Rocky Mountain Power. The utility owns some of the dirtiest coal power plants in the nation but is actively resisting the EPA’s efforts via the Clean Air Act to clean those up.
Rocky Mountain Power has fought to block the EPA from making them install cutting-edge pollution controls — called “selective catalytic reduction.” SCR controls are proven to work and are already in place at more than 200 coal plants throughout the country.
If SCR becomes widely used throughout the West, it promises to go a long way toward cleaning up our scenic views and, most important, removing the pollutants sickening our families and contributing to the rising cost of health care.
The Regional Haze rule requires states to come up with their own plans to protect these views. The EPA has approved most states’ proposals to significantly limit the landscape-shrouding pollution coming from nearby coal plants. For Utah, unfortunately, this is not the case.
Utah’s proposed Regional Haze rules were rejected by the EPA for not doing enough to cut the smog that, on some of the worst days, obscures the views in our local national parks by 40 to 80 miles.
As we head into 2015, big decisions are looming as to whether Utah will order Rocky Mountain Power’s plants to clean up. What will the EPA do? Stay tuned!
Recent Posts about Regional Haze…
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah ranks among the highest producers of toxic chemicals in the United States, according to data and information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A Forbes.com report shows that the Beehive State was No. 3 behind only Alaska and Nevada in the amount of toxins released into the environment during 2016, the year with the most recently available data.
The Toxic Releases Inventory report includes data from over 18,000 facilities nationwide, covering industries such as chemicals, manufacturing, mining and utilities. The total releases were measured in pounds of approximately 650 different toxins that were determined to have considerable negative impacts on humans and/or the environment.
"We know that there is a decent amount of pollution produced and released into the environment," said Jessica Reimer, policy associate with Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. "(The ranking) underscores the importance of ensuring that state policies and regulations are doing their job to protect Utah families, especially in one of the most population-dense counties in Utah."
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Brian Moench and Malin Moench
Salt Lake Tribune
With all the scandals, in-fighting, threats, taunts, firings, bragging, tweeting and name calling, President Trump’s White House is certainly “The Greatest Show on Earth.” But behind this circus tent and out of the limelight, dangerous, death-defying feats are under way that are anything but entertainment.
This administration’s anti-environmental act has been truly breathtaking. Last week’s ditching of the Clean Power Plan has been widely condemned. But, behind the headlines, Trump is also scrapping the most important opportunity to clean up Wasatch Front air in decades.
About half our year-round air pollution comes from vehicles. With population growth bringing ever more cars, UDOT following the Los Angeles blueprint for more freeways and more driving by all those cars, the amount of pollution per vehicle becomes all important in Utah.
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An appeals court granted a request Monday from President Donald Trump’s administration to halt a plan for new pollution controls at Utah’s oldest coal-fired power plants aimed at reducing haze near national parks.
The development marks a reversal for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which last year under Barack Obama unveiled the rules and defended itself in a lawsuit brought by Utah and Rocky Mountain Power.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals approved EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s request to halt that lawsuit while his agency revises a plan that called for new equipment to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at two coal plants in Emery County.
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