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Panel Approves Haze Plan; Environmentalists Dismayed

Jacob B. Frank
National Park Service
Environmental groups say Utah pollution control authorities missed an opportunity to remove still more haze pollution from the skies around the national parks.

State air-quality officials have updated plans to clean up haze in the skies around Utah’s national parks, and they’re sending it to federal regulators for their approval over the objections of environmental advocates.

The Utah Air Quality Board voted Wednesday to send along the revised cleanup plan to the Environmental Protection Agency. Colleen Delany, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Air Quality, says the state’s approach reduces pollution better than equipment advocated by environmental groups and the National Park Service.

“All of this package together provides greater reductions than the most stringent control technology you could put in place to reduce nitrogen oxides just looking at those four units” at the Huntington and Hunter power plants, she said.

The state’s been working on haze for more than two decades and has already cut tons of some emissions.

But environmental groups urged the state to do more. Cory MacNulty of theNational Parks Conservation Association told the board Wednesday that the state  missed an opportunity to clean up scenic vistas, when regulators opted against requiring the same kind of equipment used by 200 plants around the country at Hunter and Huntington in Utah. MacNulty said it would have meant 75 percent less nitrogen oxide.

It is “pollution that obscures up to 30 miles of the landscape that should be visible through Delicate Arch and from Island in the Sky Viewpoint at Canyonlands National Park,” she said.

Environmentalists say they will ask the EPA to reject Utah’s plan until it includes the added pollution control equipment.

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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