The state of Utah missed a deadline a year ago to submit a plan to the Environmental Protection Agency for meeting new standards for the smallest particles in the air – the so-called PM 2.5 pollutants. This plan includes new rules on industrial polluters and on wood burning in urban counties. It also depends heavily on improvements in auto emissions as cleaner cars replace those now on the road.
Kathy Van Dame, who’s a leader of the group Breathe Utah and a member of the Air Quality Board, likes this plan much better than the one they rejected a year ago.
Van Dame tells KUER, "I think that it’s a vastly improved plan in the additional year of work that was done and I think that we can be very proud of the job that our Air Quality Division has done for us.”
But the plan still has plenty of critics. Doctor Brian Moench with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment says it takes too long – until 2019 – to meet the new standards.
"Their modeling shows that this strategy that they have developed will just barely reach compliance if everything falls into their favor," Moench says. "I mean, if every of their assumptions is correct, we just barely slide in under the EPA’s threshold.”
Moench says his group will contest the plan as the E-P-A decides whether to accept it, and he wouldn’t rule out a legal challenge down the road.