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Environmental Groups: Cut More Pollution From Industry

Judy Fahys/KUER
Refineries on the Salt Lake/Davis County line would reduce emissions under a play proposed by environmental groups Wednesday.

Environmental groups have ideas for regulators about cutting the industrial emissions that contribute to Utah’s winter pollution.

The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, HEAL Utah and Western Resource Advocates say air pollution harms quality of life in Utah too much of the time.

“Folks in Utah know this because your kinds can’t go out and play on the playground,” says Joan Clayburgh, spokeswoman for Western Resource Advocates. “Our grandparents and our parents and the elderly are told maybe not to go out during the day. This is our right to have clean air.”

Smokestacks on the Wasatch Front account for nearly 1/8th of the PM 2.5 pollution that grips northern Utah basins in the winter. Cars and trucks are blamed for about half of the pollution, and federal regulations are expected to mean big cuts in vehicle emissions. But environmental groups say state regulators have smart tools at their disposal to cut pollution from the refineries and other smokestack sites. For instance, Clayburgh says, regulators could prevent emission spikes and testing facilities yearly, instead of every three or five years.

“We definitely need to address these industrial sources,” she says, “because if we don’t address these adequately, you can do great work in these other areas but it won’t be enough.”

The environmental groups want their ideas included in the next federally mandated clean-air master plan. They present their ideas to the Utah Air Quality Board Wednesday afternoon.

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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