SLC Council Members Say Scrapping Summer Fireworks is Not a Solution to Air Quality Woes

May 27, 2014

Members of the Salt Lake City Council are not fond of the Mayor’s plan to scrap summer fireworks shows. They say the ban would make little difference in the valley’s overall air quality problems. 

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s 2014-2015 budget proposal includes a handful of air quality initiatives, like funding for more efficient engines in leaf blowers and converting the city’s fleet to clean-burning fuels. Becker’s budget does not include the $25,000 needed to execute summer fireworks shows.  David Everitt, the mayor’s chief of staff says fireworks cause localized spikes in the worst kinds of air pollution.

“Well there’s no magic bullet when it comes to solving our air quality issue,” Everitt says. “It’s going to take thousands little steps in addition to some bigger steps. And I think this is one of the little steps that should be in the mix.”

But several members of the council, including clean-air advocate Erin Mendenhall say banning the popular events come at a great cost for too little benefit,

“This is us boycotting two little shows and not really making a dent in the fireworks shows that are happening in our valley,” Mendenhall says.

Councilwoman Lisa Ramsey Adams says she’d rather the council ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve when the air is at its worst. And she worries a summer ban would increase the use of fireworks across the valley.

“If we take this away then everyone is going to go to Evanston and buy everything awful, all the illegal stuff as well as the legal stuff that’s sold in every parking lot and we’re going to set the whole valley on fire,” Adams says.

Everitt says he realizes the shows are a cherished event for a lot of people.

“But I think there is also something to be said for not just presuming that our traditions are always something that we should continue without some sort of evaluation and critical thinking about them,” Everitt says. “And that’s what we’re doing right now as a city.”

The council will revisit the issue next week and likely make a decision by mid-June.