Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Kim Raff | Tribune file photo) Utah regulators on Wednesday approved a plan to improve the Wasatch Front's wintertime air quality. Inversions like this one in February 2013 traps particulate pollution near the ground.
Air pollution getting more attention in Utah’s Capitol
Bad air » GOP leaders, Herbert weigh in as protesters plan Wednesday event.
First Published Feb 12 2013 05:15 pm • Last Updated Feb 13 2013 07:29 am

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and GOP legislative leaders insisted Tuesday they are taking poor air quality seriously, even as the Capitol was being targeted for yet another citizen protest.

The "Coff’in" planned for 3 p.m. Wednesday represents the third time since the 2013 Legislature began that critics of Herbert’s air quality programs have gathered at the Capitol to protest. The effort will be joined by members of Mormon Environmental Stewardship, according to that group’s Facebook page.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"We know Utahns have to do more for their part," said Bart Tibbitts of Utah Tar Sands Resistance, the group behind the latest protest. But clean energy has to be part of any solution, too, he added.

"We’re looking for more leadership from the governor and elected officials," said activist Deb Henry, who’s also with the tar sands group. She said Herbert’s pro-energy development policy is a "runaway train that’s on a collision course."

Meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Herbert pointed out that the topic is getting more attention lately even though air pollution problems have been around for a long time, even when he was a Utah County commissioner.

"As I’ve said and I’ll say again, even one day that exceeds the PM2.5 [particulate pollution] standard is one too many," he said, pointing to the health and economic harm it causes. "The dirty air is not an acceptable condition that we need to embrace and say, ‘It’s the way it’s going to be.’ "

Already, there have been 20 days this year where fine-particle pollution — the microscopic soot from engines that builds up during high-pressure episodes in northern Utah valleys — has exceeded Environmental Protection Agency health standards. Beyond irritating eyes, throats and lungs, these high-pollution periods trigger heart and lung problems and even premature death.

In addition, the winter smog is blamed for driving away prospective businesses and tourists.

On Monday, House Democrats unveiled a package of six bills aimed at cutting pollution.

Then Tuesday, during a meeting with reporters, GOP leaders criticized the minority party’s approach. Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, called the Democrats’ package "very short-term and very quick fixes that don’t deal with the major problems."

story continues below
story continues below

"We’re all united in looking at these natural gas and alternative fuels," said House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, who also supports using traditional sources of energy, like coal, in less polluting ways.

One GOP proposal, providing incentives for cities to upgrade their fleets and extension of the tax credit for alternative-fuel vehicles, was killed in committee, 7-8. Democrats voted against it because it would take money from public education.



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.