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Sides weigh in on proposed pollution rules

Published April 3, 2012 6:37 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

State regulators received more than a dozen comments on proposed changes for handling breakdown reports from about 1,200 industrial polluters.

Joel Karmazyn, who is overseeing the public response to the updated "unavoidable breakdown rule" for the Utah Division of Air Quality, said about 10 comments came from the general public ­— all of them supporting the approach suggested by regulators.

Eight environmental organizations and other community groups, as well as one regulated company, favored the changes. But comments from three organizations representing industry panned the state's proposal.

The changes would update a 30-year-old regulation, which is intended to help regulators keep close tabs on emissions over and above what's normally allowed. Breakdown reports help DAQ identify companies that aren't maintaining and operating their plants properly.

Offenders face fines if DAQ, after an in-depth review, determines they are negligent.

The environmental group WildEarth Guardians, saying the state's regulation is a "loophole," sued the Environmental Protection Agency over it.

Now the federal agency is under court order to force Utah to tighten its breakdown regulation. The deadline is this summer.

Industry groups said the state's proposed solution would involve too much paperwork, and they want regulators to drop it. In the meantime, they say, the state can continue applying its own strategy, which regulators and industry insist is effective in curtailing pollution from sloppy operations and punishing violators.

State regulators will review comments in coming weeks and are expected to submit a final proposal to the Air Quality Board in June. The board may approve the suggested regulation or opt for changes.

"The current Utah rule is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act," said Richard Mylott, spokesman for the EPA in Denver, "and [it] requires revision or deletion."

fahys@sltrib.com

Twitter: @judyfutah