OP ED: If Trump hobbles EPA, Utahns’ lungs will pay the price

Salt Lake Tribune
By Matt Pacenza
March 6, 2017

Take a step back from the complex reality of Utah’s air pollution problems and one fact is inescapable. Without consistent, strong action from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in recent decades, the smog we suffer through during winter time inversions would be much worse than it is now.

That is why Utahns and our congressional delegation must resist efforts from the administration of President Donald Trump to slash the powers and budget of the EPA in the months to come.

Data from state officials shows a downward trend in total emissions in northern Utah valleys over the past 15 years. That’s impressive and positive, especially considering the corresponding increase in population over the same time frame. To put it simply, even though so many people are moving here and our families are growing, we’re managing to create less pollution.

Now, even as we acknowledge those improvements, it’s important to recognize that we still have plenty of bad air days. We are not yet in attainment with federal air quality standards, designed to protect the health of our families and children. Just ask emergency room doctors, who see a sharp increase in patients when PM2.5 levels soar. Clearly, we have much work left, especially because our population will keep increasing.

The success of the past shows that future improvements are possible. So how is it that we have managed to reduce emissions? Drill down into the state’s data and the answer is clear. We have benefited from EPA actions.

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