Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) The afternoon sun tries to burn through the inversion near the Salt Lake City LDS temple, Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
Editorial: Herbert taking helpful steps to clean up our air

Herbert taking wise actions

First Published Feb 10 2014 04:43 pm • Last Updated Feb 11 2014 02:15 pm

The air over the Utah State Capitol this winter has been thick with, well, it’s just been thick.

Enough so that our elected officials are starting not only to notice but also accept that they have a responsibility to do something about it.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The Legislature is considering a package of more than a dozen bills aimed at addressing the problem. That’s good.

What’s better is that Gov. Gary Herbert is rolling out some steps he can take without waiting for the Legislature, steps that will address a pair of the leading sources of the air pollution suffered during the atmospheric inversions that plague what should be the state’s beautifully bracing winter air.

One is directing the Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of banning wood burning in places where air quality falls short of federal standards throughout the whole of the winter inversion season. That’s basically mid-December through the end of February.

These small sources have been shown to produce a hugely disproportionate share of harmful winter pollutants. And, as Herbert says, limiting the ban to just the worst days is not clear to residents and not enough to make a difference.

The other is to push for the local refining and use of what’s called Tier 3 gasoline. That’s a fuel with the potential to reduce certain kinds of pollutants by as much as 80 percent. Given that more than half of the nasty stuff that fouls our air each winter rises from the tailpipes of our cars and trucks, taking a big chunk out of that filth is a huge step forward.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is moving to make Tier 3 a national standard by 2017. But Herbert rightly wants Utah to move on its own to make sure that Utah’s small refineries aren’t allowed to fly under the EPA’s radar. Because they are among the nation’s smaller operations, and because big oil companies would be allowed to average out their production of the improved fuels rather than convert all of their operations, that is a real concern.

Across the entire nation, Herbert says, the top seven counties that would benefit the most from the conversion to Tier 3 fuels are all located in northern Utah. And the projected additional cost of the improved fuel ranges from a penny to 9 cents a gallon. Hardly a sacrifice for any motorist.

The fact that the national Tier 3 mandate might miss Utah is another reason why the Legislature should approve SB164, as Herbert favors. That’s a measure that would remove the handcuffs from the DEQ and allow it to make rules that fit Utah’s needs, not just piggy-back on EPA standards.

story continues below
story continues below

Utahns believe that they can govern their state better than the federal government can. Here’s a chance to prove it.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.