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Clean Air Rally Draws Thousands at Capitol

Judy Fahys
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes urged Saturday's clean-air rally crowd to keep up the pressure on lawmakers for pollution solutions. He's flanks Democratic Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Cherise Udell, founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air.

Thousands of Utahns gathered at the State Capitol Saturday to remind lawmakers they want more action on clean air.

Seven-year-old Ivan Sonnenberg showed off a hand-drawn poster he’d made for Saturday’s rally that said:

“Let me go to recess,” he said.

Ivan’s dad is like so many other people who gathered at the Capitol steps. He sees pollution as an important health and moral issue, so Dan Sonnnenberg brought his entire family to the rally to remind leaders to keep working on solutions.

“Hopefully, they’ll see that there are enough people who really care about this issue, and they’ll take it seriously.”

This year’s Clean Air, No Excuses rally infused new energy into grassroots efforts to improve Utah’s air quality. Dirty air during last year’s rally helped galvanize a growing political movement.  Blue skies greeted protestors this time. But the call for continued action was just as loud.

“You need to tell Legislators that this is the way you want to spend your hard-earned tax dollars,” said Rep. Patrice Arent, a Democrat from Millcreek who founded the Legislature’s Clean Air Caucus. “You want to spend it to clean up the air. And there can be no excuses.”

Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes also urged the crowd to keep the issue on the Legislature’s radar.

Lawmakers have proposed nearly two dozen bills and funding initiatives for clean air in the new session.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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