NEWS: Where there’s smoke, there’s pollution: Protesters argue against cooking exemption for Utah burn ban

Salt Lake Tribune
Published Mar 16 2017


Utah environmentalists worry a bill waiting for Gov. Gary Herbert’s approval could throw tinder on the fire of Utah’s poor air-quality days.

“You could literally start a bonfire on a red air day in a nonattainment area and roast a single marshmallow and our state regulators could literally do nothing about it,” said HEAL Utah’s policy director, Ashley Soltysiak. “That’s wrong.”

HB65, which passed both the House and Senate in the recent legislative session, would require the Division of Air Quality to permit residents or commercial operations to burn wood, even during mandatory no-burn days, if the wood is burned to cook.

About 50 people gathered Thursday at the headquarters of Traeger Grills in Sugar House to protest the bill. Rally organizers said HB65 has too broad of a scope, making it impossible to enforce restrictions on wood-burning on poor air-quality days.

Matt Pacenza said its successful passage also sets a bad precedent, as Traeger — which manufactures wood-fired grills — lobbied for the bill.

The Legislature or private companies shouldn’t be able to tell the Division of Air Quality how to do its job without proper training or advice from air-quality experts, Soltysiak said.

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