Clean-air advocates give Utah governor suggestions for pollution solutions
Gov. Gary Herbert's office Friday received a packet of pollution-cutting ideas from Utah Moms for Clean Air.
"We all need to take more action than we have," said environmental adviser Alan Matheson, who accepted the report, called Path to Improving Air Quality in Utah. "It's going to take a lot of effort from all of us."
The group sketched an outline of its multi-faceted approach at a meeting last week with Herbert. One key recommendation is for the Republican governor to use his executive powers to establish a task force to assess the problem; examine its health consequences and study its economic impacts, including health-care costs related to pollution.
The panel's goal would be to suggest legislation and other strategies for cleaning up air pollution.
Northern Utah has gotten national attention in recent weeks as particulate pollution hovered at generally unhealthy levels for 23 days this winter and the bad air triggered rallies, petition drives and protests at the Capitol.
Another proposal: airshed user fees similar to those charged for managing garbage and sewage. Having polluters pay to cover the public cost of airborne pollution releases is a fair, free market, libertarian solution to our air pollution problems, the advocacy group said.
"If you want to pollute, fine," said Cherise Udell, president of the Utah Moms, "but it's gonna cost you."
A University of Utah student who organized a Capitol protest last month and met with Herbert last week, Carl Ingwell, said he was "hopeful and optimistic."
"At the same time, I think this is going to be a monumental task we'll need to look at from many different angles," he said at a news conference. "It's going to require solutions on the individual level, on the industry level, on the governmental level. So, this is a good first step, but sentiment must be followed by action, and we need our government to lead us."
Ingrid Griffee, a member of Utah Moms, called the pollution problem "a classic Tragedy of the Commons" that warrants government leadership. In fact, with so much at stake for so many people, "it is right and justified for the state to impose regulations and offer incentives to protect that resource."