Environmental groups urged the Utah Air Quality Board this week to step up pollution controls. In the case of uranium-mine emissions, the board nixed a proposal by Moab-based Uranium Watch to adopt more comprehensive oversight.
But the board simply listened when the Healthy Environment Alliance (HEAL) urged the panel to require new nitrogen-cutting equipment at the Hunter and Huntington power plants in central Utah. The time to act on such a request is not expected for months.
Matt Pacenza, speaking for HEAL, urged the panel to push PacifiCorp to install "selective catalytic reduction" units at the two coal-fired plants to help reduce nitrogen oxides, a key component of both summer and winter pollution, as well as the haze that sometime obscures national park vistas.
"We're convinced it would be the right step not just for improving the visibility in the national parks," he told the board, "but also for improving the health of all Utahns."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which partially disapproved Utah's plan to deal with haze this spring, has asked the state to propose better solutions to nitrogen pollution in time to meet an Oct. 31 plan deadline. PacifiCorp and the state already are working on the requested fixes.
Meanwhile, after more than a year's efforts to zero in on emissions from reopened uranium mines, Uranium Watch went home Wednesday without the board's support for its proposal to use the same regulatory approach to radioactive emissions from newly reopened uranium mines as it does to industrial polluters.
"I think [the Utah Division of Air Quality] is looking for reasons not to regulate," said Sarah Fields with Uranium Watch.
But, after hearing Fields' detailed critique of the state's mine-air oversight last month, the board agreed with air-quality staff that new regulations are not needed. As explained by DAQ staff, the state already has the tools it needs to make sure air at the mines is safe for the workers and the public.
Public comment on haze
P The Environmental Protection Agency is gathering public comments on the proposed partial approval, partial disapproval of Utah's regional haze plan through July 16. More information is available online. > 1.usa.gov/Lwhr4i.