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Businesses Push For Cleaner Air

Judy Fahys
More than two dozen businesses signed onto a recent letter urging Gov. Gary Herbert and environmental regulators to look for innovative approaches as they address the Environmental Protection Agency's "serious" designation for PM2.5 in northern Utah

Wasatch Front businesses want environmental regulators to clean up the air. Dozens of companies are pressing for strong, ambitious solutions for winter smog.

Nazz Kurth, is president of Petzl America, a mountaineering equipment company in West Valley City. He’s showing visitors the solar panels on the roof, which helped whittle the company’s monthly electric bill to $20 during what’s expected to be the hottest summer on record. It’s part of the company’s effort to become a good corporate citizen.

“So, there’s a GPS unit that tracks the sun as it goes through the sky and amplifies the natural light,” explains Kurth, who says clean air is important for Utah’s business climate.

“We’ve had challenges, recruiting and retaining talent because of the air quality,” he says. “It impacts our business, and that impacts the overall economy.”

Thirty businesses, including Zions Bank, are asking state leaders to step up efforts to meet federal particulate matter standards. Controlling wood smoke, promoting electric vehicles, testing vehicle emissions statewide – they’re all strategies that could reduce pollution, the businesses say.

“Businesses want this; employees want this,” says Erin Strahm, program administrator for the business nonprofit, Leaders for Clean Air.

“It’s out of step to have legislation lagging so far behind what we are asking for and what we want,” she says.

The businesses have sent a letter to state environmental officials. They say bold approaches are needed now to address pollution problems that even the U-S Environmental Protection Agency calls “serious.”

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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