Regional Haze

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!

The Issue

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.

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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.

Looking Forward

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!

Resources

EPA’s Final Action on Utah’s Regional Haze SIP (PDF)

 


 

Recent Posts about Regional Haze…

NEWS: Tribune Editorial: Time to put out the fireworks

Rick Egan
Salt Lake Tribune
11/18/2017

 

Fireworks are lighting up the state capital again as legislators considered a bill on Wednesday to cut the number of days Utahns can embrace their pyromania. Legislators opened a committee bill file in August to review the issue, and are now moving forward with reforms.

Utah is unique in that we celebrate not one, but two, firework-worthy holidays in July – Independence Day on July 4 and Pioneer Day on July 24. Many Utahns take the two holidays as a reason to celebrate all month long, much to the chagrin of their early-to-bed and animal-loving neighbors.

Utah State Forester Brian Cottam told legislators in August that “stupid human tricks” doubled the cost of fighting wildfires to $18 million this year.

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NEWS: Utah lawmakers push to limit summer fireworks after rash of fires and complaints of polluted air and terrified pets

Taylor W. Anderson
Salt Lake Tribune
11/15/2017

Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would nearly cut in half the number of days Utahns can ignite fireworks after cities reported calls from residents afraid of fires, annoyed with noise and upset over air pollution around the state’s two July holidays.

A bill moving through the Legislature would restrict fireworks to two days before and one day after both Independence Day on July 4 and Pioneer Day on July 24. That would be down from three days before the holidays, on the days of and three days after. These longer pyrotechnics periods have been in place since 2012.

Cities under the bill could restrict fireworks in more areas than under current law based on input from fire officials but couldn’t outright ban them. Fireworks retailers would have to list dates and times of legal ignition and limits and maps created by the county when selling to customers.

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NEWS: Utah among the most toxic states, report says

Jasen Lee
Deseret News
11/09/2017

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.

 

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"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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