As Utah’s population increases and spurs development, area sources stand to become Utah’s largest pollution source. Area sources include homes, businesses, development projects, off-road vehicles (like construction equipment), and agriculture.
The main tool to reduce area source emissions is establishing technical regulations that Utah’s public agencies can enforce. This starts with the establishment of cleaner standards that specific sources must meet and hold area source emitters accountable. However, individual action — from pressure on large area source emitters like developers to changes made in your own home appliances — can still reduce emissions. By educating the public on the problem and providing tangible solutions, we work to change individual behavior.
Areas in Utah like Salt Lake City and St. George are growing at a staggering rate. In order to ensure that these cities develop in a sustainable, equitable manner that can stand the test of time, HEAL is promoting the guiding principles of smart growth in planning decisions.
Smart growth is an approach to development that integrates environmental and economic goals of a region, prioritizes measures to reduce impact, promotes community engagement. By weaving the smart growth principles into state legislation, local goals, and business considerations, we hope to normalize these ideas. To create a better future, we need to make smarter decisions today.
The smart growth principles include:
- Mix land uses
- Take advantage of compact design
- Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
- Create walkable neighborhoods
- Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
- Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
- Direct development towards existing communities
- Provide a variety of transportation choices
- Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
- Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions
STATE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
For the last decade, regions in Utah have been out of attainment with federal air quality standards for PM2.5 and ozone. This has launched the state into a lengthy compliance process with the EPA that requires the development of State Implementation Plans (SIP). SIPs are in-depth plan created by the Utah Division of Air Quality that detail what’s required by the public, businesses, and industries in a region to get back in attainment. After the federal EPA approves the SIP, the region must prove that they have regained attainment or else face stricter SIP processes.
HEAL is an active participant during the public review process of these SIPs and encourage our supporters to do the same. We advocate for things stronger controls on wood burning, off-road vehicles (like construction equipment), on-road vehicles (our cars and trucks), and fugitive dust (e.g. from sand and gravel quarries), and for stronger review on industry compliance.
We continually monitor the efforts of these regions to get back in attainment and are always at the ready to work with regulators on this process.
The proposed inland port is one of the more complex and controversial conversations happening in Utah right now. HEAL has been watchdogging the port’s environmental development and determining whether the port, if it is built, can ever be sustainable. While we have developed possible strategies to minimize the port’s effect on air quality, we are also looking at what it means for energy and waste and are strategizing on what a low-impact port would require. Our current approach is one of “cautious collaboration” to try and implement sustainability measures – an approach which may change if sustainability best practices are not upheld. If it appears that those involved in the port planning process are not taking these environmental issues and recommendations seriously we are ready to take a stronger position.