NEWS RELEASE Contacts:
Jamie Trafficanda, Western Resource Advocates Earned Media Manager,
Grace Olscamp, HEAL Utah Communications & Outreach Associate,
Ashley Soltysiak, Utah Sierra Club Director,
Clean Air Advocates: Utahns Have One Week to Submit Comments to Improve Air Quality, Protect Health
Salt Lake City and surrounding areas along the Wasatch Front have violated federal air quality standards since 2008
Salt Lake City, Utah (Oct. 24, 2018) – Western Resource Advocates, HEAL Utah, and the Sierra Club Utah Chapter are urging Utahns to participate in a public comment process to reduce dangerous levels of air pollution in their communities. The comment period, which ends Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, is a critical opportunity to ensure the Utah Division of Air Quality develops a plan to meet federal standards and protect residents’ health.
Salt Lake City and surrounding areas along the Wasatch Front have violated federal air quality standards since 2008, putting Utahns at risk for lung and heart disease, cancers, and other ailments. The pollution is so severe the region is currently classified as a Serious Nonattainment Area by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is currently developing the fine particulate (PM2.5) State Implementation Plan – a plan that must show how the Salt Lake Valley will meet federal air quality standards by 2019. Fine particulate pollution comes from several sources, including vehicle exhaust and burning wood, oil, or coal. The DAQ’s current plan fails to demonstrate that Utah will adequately address fine particulate pollution to meet federal standards at all air quality monitoring stations throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Comments by the public are needed to ensure the DAQ adopts additional measures — such as common-sense rules for wood burning during the winter and controls on construction and mining equipment — to clean up the air.
“Utahns have waited a decade for state officials to take action to improve the quality of our air,” said Utah-based Western Resource Advocates General Counsel Joro Walker. “As we approach the winter months and seasonal inversion — which trap harmful air pollution in the Salt Lake Valley — public health is once again at risk. I encourage all Utahns to participate in this process to hold the Division of Air Quality accountable for cleaning up our air and protecting our quality of life.”
“Solutions proposed in the SIP will determine what actions industry, business, and the public must take to reduce emissions,” said HEAL Utah’s Executive Director Dr. Scott Williams. “These solutions can help protect our health from the negative impacts of bad air quality — but only if the state requires that sufficient action is taken across all emission sources to achieve the necessary reductions.”
“We are at a critical moment here in Utah, where air quality has failed for over a decade to meet federal health standards,” said Utah Sierra Club Director Ashley Soltysiak. “This Serious State Plan is an opportunity which must be capitalized on with aggressive action by the Division of Air Quality to curb emissions from vehicles, area sources, and industry. We simply cannot allow our administrators to rest on their laurels when the health of the public, environment, and economy are at stake.”
The fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution that builds up in the Salt Lake Valley during wintertime inversions is so severe that it causes as many as 2,000 premature deaths in Utah each year. Exposure to this pollution leads to higher rates of heart attacks, strokes and lung disease, diminished lung function, increased risk of cancers, and is linked to problematic pregnancies and stunted cognitive development in children.
Utahns can visit this website as well as the Division of Air Quality’s website to learn more and submit comments. Comments can be emailed to Thomas Gunter, DAQ rules coordinator, at email@example.com or mailed to the address below.
Division of Air Quality
PO Box 144820
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4820
Western Resource Advocates works to protect the West’s land, air, and water so that our communities thrive in balance with nature. WRA’s team of scientists, lawyers, and economists craft and implement innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. For more information, visit www.westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @wradv.
HEAL Utah has been an environmental advocate, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah for nearly 20 years. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and pursuing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. HEAL focuses on improving air quality, promoting renewable energy, combating climate change, and protecting Utah from radioactive waste. For more information, visit www.healutah.org
Utah Sierra Club: The Utah Chapter works to protect Utah’s wild places, wildlife, and waters, as well as the people and communities who depend on them. The Chapter’s activism and advocacy are based on their strong grassroots networks, citizen-based leadership, and the guidance and skill sets of professional staff support. With over 35,000 members and supporters across the state of Utah, they work to protect public lands, promote renewable energy, and support initiatives that promote clean air strategies. They maintain a presence at the Utah Legislature to advocate on the full spectrum of environmental issues to amplify the voices of our members.