A new report tries to cut through some of the confusion surrounding Utah’s air-pollution problems. Shawn Teigen says he stepped back to take an impartial look at one of Utah’s most important issues. He’s a research analyst for the non-partisan Utah Foundation. His report released Thursday notes pollution has not trended up -- or down -- over the past 15 years. He’s found that smoke from solid-fuels like wood and coal is an unexpectedly big problem. He’s also learned that federal clean-vehicle, clean-fuel standards called Tier 3 will go a long way to clean up the air.
“It’s been proposed by the EPA," Teigen says. "The Governor’s on board with it. The Air Quality Board – they like it. But it’s essentially you’ve got cleaner fuel going into a cleaner vehicle, and that’s a big, big, big deal.”
The latest study follows up on the foundation’s past research that showed air-quality is a top-five priority for Utahns. It cites research projecting that the Clean Air Act will cost around $65 billion over the next 30 years while saving nearly $2 trillion. The report also touches on how advocates and the business community have played a role in pushing air pollution to the top of the agenda.
“You’ve got all these groups with all these different messages but ultimately they do have a similar, common message," he says, "and that may be part of the reason why this issue has some legs also, because are talking about it in a lot of different circles.”
Teigen also notes that groups like the Salt Lake Chamber have raised concerns about how pollution affects the state’s ability to attract businesses and visitors.