Utah’s State Air Quality Board has given its preliminary approval to a new plan for meeting federal air quality regulations on the Wasatch Front.
"Most of the residents of the valley are going to be breathing clean air sooner than 2019, so that’s a good thing," Bill Reiss, a planner with the Utah Division of Air Quality, explained to the Board of Air Quality.
He was explaining how Utah’s urban counties are going to meet federal standards for the fine particles called PM 2.5. The state is relying heavily on improvements in auto emissions that are built into newer cars. But industrial polluters and small businesses like bakeries and body shops are also being required to pollute less.
Bryce Bird, the director of the division, says the plan also focuses attention on stricter enforcement of wood burning, which he says has been a huge problem during periods of stagnant air in the winter.
“So the inversion would start, we’d start building up concentrations and then three or four days into the inversion, we’d prohibit woodburning," Bird says. "What we did with the new rule is to put that prohibition in earlier in the inversion.”
The Air Quality Board voted unanimously to submit the plan for public comment. A 30-day public comment period will begin October 1st and the board plans to finalize it in December. By then, Utah will be a year late submitting its state implementation plan to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.