NEWS: Reviews mixed from environmental advocates on legislative action for clean air, water

By EMMA PENROD
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published Mar 11 2017

 

State regulators and environmental advocates praised Utah lawmakers’ late approval of spending $1.3 million for new air quality sensors, but their reviews were otherwise mixed.

“Overall it was a somewhat disappointing session,” said Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, a nonprofit that lobbies for clean air policy. “But we’re grateful given the political context that we have some positive achievements to point to.”

Though probably the most significant environmental issue of this year’s session, the Division of Air Quality’s request for air monitoring funding — $1.3 million one-time to upgrade the department’s network and $150,000 ongoing for maintenance — did not draw approval until Wednesday, a day before the adjourning gavel fell.

Alan Matheson, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said the spending would repair the agency’s aging air monitors, now unreliable and prone to periodic failure even during some of the state’s worst seasonal pollution episodes.

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