air quality

Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Clean Cars Help Utahns Cut Smog Now

Cars and trucks account for more than half of the pollution on the Wasatch Front. New regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have the same impact as taking 4 of every 5 of today's vehicles off the road. State leaders and clean-air advocates say it will be a powerful tool to clean up the air year-round, in Utah and throughout the country.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

New clean fuel, clean car standards promise to be the single best way to clean up Utah’s air. State leaders say they want to accelerate these so-called Tier 3 rules in Utah. Yet, car buyers are already taking matters into their own hands, at the steering wheel.

Another air-scrubbing storm has just passed through Salt Lake City. But Tom Hemmersmeier is still thinking about clean cars.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:24 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Impact Hub Salt Lake Tackles Air Quality

Impact Hub Salt Lake staff Ryan Chatterton and Alev Bilginsoy at the temporary "pop-up hub" at 44 Exchange Place in Salt Lake City. (March 24, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

Entrepreneurs, activists and policy makers are joining forces Wednesday to solve air quality problems along the Wasatch front. The new Impact Hub Salt Lake is hosting what they call an innovation lab focused on finding air pollution solutions.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:55 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Air Quality Advocates Grade Lawmakers

Air quality advocates present their grades for lawmakers at the Utah Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Clean air advocates released their grades for Utah lawmakers Tuesday. Compared to past legislative sessions, lawmakers showed improvement, but advocates say there is still a lot of work to be done. 

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Education
5:26 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Some Question Strength of Air Quality Recess Guidelines

When fine particle air pollution along the Wasatch Front reaches the high end of what the Utah Division of Air Quality deems unhealthy, the Utah Department of Health recommends schools keep students inside for recess. But some wonder if that recommendation should come when pollution levels are even lower. Officials with the Utah Asthma Program say discussions about revising those standards are underway.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Grants Help Small Businesses Reduce Emissions

ACS Precision Finish auto body shop tests out new water-based paint system that will help the company reduce its emissions.
Andrea Smardon

Small businesses now have access to funding that will help improve air quality. The UCAIR Air Assist program offers funds to small businesses to buy equipment upgrades that will reduce emissions. The first grant recipient is an auto body shop in Salt Lake City.

ACS Precision Finish is using about $15,000 of state money to upgrade from a solvent to a water-based paint system. Corey Kaggie, a painter in the shop, is dressed in a white protective body suit, goggles, and a face mask. She says the new paint certainly smells better.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

DAQ Report: A Few More Inversion Days

DAQ's mobile phone app provides information on current air quality conditions
Brian Grimmett

  Utah’s winter inversion season ended on March 1st.  The Division of Air Quality says there were 31 days when the urban areas of Utah exceeded the federal Ambient Air Quality standards, compared to 29 the year before.  But Bryce Bird, the director of the Division of Air Quality, says what’s really changed is public interest in the issue.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:10 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Legislative Committee Defeats Bill to Keep Medical Incinerators Away From Homes

The Stericycle medical waste incinerator sits next to homes in the Foxboro neighborhood of North Salt Lake.
Andrea Smardon

  A Utah Senate committee voted down a bill Friday that would have kept medical incinerators at least five miles away from homes. 

Senate Bill 64 would have increased fines for air quality violations by medical waste incinerators, increased the length of time allowed for investigating violations and  imposed a five-mile buffer between homes and any medical waste incinerator in the state.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:14 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

New Recommendations from Clean Air Action Team

Polluted air trapped by a weather inversion over Salt Lake City, January 2014
Dan Bammes

  The Utah Clean Air Action Team – the group appointed by Governor Gary Herbert to look at strategies for improving air quality – wants to see a bigger budget for the Division of Air Quality.  That’s one of three new recommendations this week.  The others are expanding public transit and other alternative transportation and continuing public education campaigns on air quality.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:18 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Bill Would Increase Fees on Clean Vehicles

  Electric cars, hybrid cars and vehicles powered by natural gas would pay dramatically higher registration fees under a bill in the Utah State Senate.  Republican Senator Wayne Harper of West Jordan says vehicles that don’t use gasoline or diesel fuel need to pay their fair share to maintain Utah’s roads.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:38 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Bill Requiring Cleaner State Fleet Moves Ahead

Compressed natural gas fueling station in Myton, Utah
Utah Clean Cities

  A bill that requires the state to use high-efficiency, low-polluting vehicles in its own fleet got strong support in the Utah State Senate this morning.

Senate Bill 99 originally required the state to use compressed natural gas vehicles for half its fleet by 2018.  But Republican Senator Scott Jenkins changed it to allow vehicles that use low-sulfur Tier 3 gasoline.  Jenkins says the people who run the state motor pool say it would accomplish the same goal for a lot less money.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:24 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Goodbye to Winter Smog? Forecast Says the Season's Last Inversion Starts next Week

This snapshot of the Climate Center's inversion forecast shows a likelihood of a weeklong inversion -- and the smog building -- beginning in about a week. You can see the page online at: http://climate.usurf.usu.edu/inversion.php
Credit Utah Climate Center

    

Skies have been smog-free in northern Utah for the past few days. Now the Utah Climate Center says we can breathe easy for at least another week.

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Politics
11:29 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Herbert: State is Strong, But There are Challenges to Confront

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says the state is strong, but there are still several challenges that Utah must confront. Herbert was speaking at his 5th annual State of the State Address.

Herbert highlighted investigations into former Attorney General John Swallow as a success, as well as the state’s 4.1 percent underemployment rate –which is among the lowest in the nation. But he was also quick to acknowledge the hardships—a booming population, federal overreach and economic development  

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Environment & Public Lands
6:14 pm
Sat January 25, 2014

Capitol Protestors Demand Air-Pollution Action

Carl Ingwell (left) and Brian Moench (right) were the leading organizers of Saturday's rally on the Utah Capitol's south steps. Rep. Angela Romero (middle) was one of the half-dozen lawmakers who attended.
Credit Judy Fahys

    

A sea of people swarmed Utah’s Capitol steps and south lawn Saturday. Thousands gathered for the Clean Air, No Excuses rally just above winter smog blanketing the valley. Brian Moench, a co-founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, told the demonstrators they have a right to clean air.

“This is your state,” said Moench. “What goes on in the building behind us is your government. The air you breathe is largely what you make of it, either by ignoring it, making it worse by neglect or by fighting to make it better.”

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Environment & Public Lands
6:05 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Thousands Expected at Clean Air Rally Saturday

Thousands of Utahns say they plan to join a rally at the State Capitol Saturday. They want Governor Gary Herbert and the Legislature to do something immediately about poor air quality.

Salt Lake City folk singer Tom Bennett wrote his song, Governor We Cannot Breathe, to be performed at tomorrow’s Clean Air, No Excuses Rally.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:29 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Utah Foundation Releases Report on Air Quality

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.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:19 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Are Utah's Rules for Emissions Inspections on Old Cars Fair?

Wikimedia Commons

  Newer cars are a lot cleaner than older cars, but a member of the Utah Senate would like to make sure the rules for inspecting those older vehicles are being applied fairly.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:54 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

U of U Students Develop Video Game App to Combat Air Pollution

Image by Tim Brown/Creative Commons via flickr

University of Utah graduate students are developing a video game app to help Utahns better understand the connection between their actions and the dirty air. 

Kerry Kelly is Associate Director of the University of Utah’s program for Air Quality, Health and Society. She says her role is to make sure this game is backed up by scientific evidence. But here’s one of the ideas they’re considering:

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Environment & Public Lands
2:10 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Utah DEQ Releases 2013 Annual Report

Erik Crossman - University of Utah

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality released its 2013 annual report today. The report highlights some of the DEQ’s main accomplishments and success stories from the past year.  DEQ Communication Director Donna Spangler says one of the most important was finalizing the state’s air quality plan.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:36 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

New Study Looks at Air Pollution at Different Elevations

Advocacy group Breath Utah is partnering with the Utah Division of Air Quality to monitor air quality in different parts of the valley and along the benches. They say the study will help the state better focus efforts to combat pollution. 

Kevin Hart is an environmental scientist for the Division of Air Quality.  He’s installing a pm2.5 monitor outside Fort Herriman Middle School in Riverton. He says the more of these devices that can be set up the better the state will understand how to approach air pollution. 

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Environment & Public Lands
9:27 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Air Quality Board Adds Industrial Regulations

The Utah Air Quality Board hears public comment on a supplement to the state implementation plan for controlling industrial air pollution.
Dan Bammes

  The Utah Air Quality Board voted yesterday to add a supplement to the plan for controlling pollution from industrial sources.  Bryce Bird, the director of the Division of Air Quality, says it will help industry get going to comply with new state requirements.

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Local Government
5:07 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Becker Presses State to Act on Air Quality in State of City Address

The state legislature needs to act or step aside and empower cities to act to improve air quality. That’s the message in Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s annual State of the City Address, which he presented today at the University of Utah. 

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Environment & Public Lands
4:42 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

University of Utah Announces Grants for Study of Air Pollution

Kerry Kelly University of Utah Air Quality, Health and Society Program

The University of Utah has awarded six researchers grants to study the consequences of regional air pollution.  The seed grants, which total $165,000, are the first to come out of a new cross-disciplinary program focused on air quality.  

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Environment & Public Lands
4:15 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Air Quality Bills to Focus on Changing Utahns’ Behavior

State Democratic Representatives Brian King, Joel Briscoe, and Patrice Arent at a 2013 air quality rally on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Utah’s air quality issues became evident early this winter, and state lawmakers are working on a number of bills to address the problem. Most of them are focused on getting Utah citizens to change their behavior.

Air pollution was reportedly a hot topic at the most recent Utah Republican House caucus. But Republican Representative Jim Nielson of Bountiful says it’s not a partisan issue, and lawmakers have been working together to address it.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:27 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Study Shows Indoor Air Quality Better than Outdoors

Utah State University's webcam shows the Cache Valley covered by an inversion layer.
Utah State University/Utah Division of Air Quality

 When the air quality gets really bad in Utah’s valleys, residents are told to stay indoors.  But is our indoor air really any better?  A new study from Utah State University is helping to answer that question.

Environmental engineering professor Randy Martin says our indoor air is much cleaner than outdoors on cold inversion days.  He says a lot of the hazardous PM 2.5 particles tend to evaporate in the warmer indoor environment.  But he says we can also cause problems for ourselves inside.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:02 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Groups Appeal Holly-Frontier Refinery Expansion

The Holly-Frontier oil refinery in Woods Cross, Utah
Dan Bammes

  Activist groups are challenging the permit allowing the Holly-Frontier oil refinery in Woods Cross to expand its capacity.  

The Utah Division of Air Quality issued a permit last month allowing Holly-Frontier to more than double its refining capacity.  Work is already underway as the company prepares to install new equipment.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:53 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Survey Shows Utahns Willing to Pitch In for Clean Air

Envision Utah

  A new study by Envision Utah says 99-percent of Utahns are willing to do something personally to help improve air quality.  Envision CEO Robert Grow says respondents were willing to avoid idling, combine trips and even trade in older cars to make a contribution.  Grow says there’s enough civic commitment in Utah to have a real impact.

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Health Care
4:53 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Intermountain Doctors Say Bad Air Quality Associated with Spike in Patients

Air quality along the Wasatch front this week has reached levels above what the federal government deems safe, and doctors at Intermountain Medical Center say they are already hearing a lot of related health complaints from their patients.

Among those seeing a spike in patients is Denitza Blagev, pulmonary and critical care physician at Intermountain Medical Center. Common symptoms include chest tightness, chest burning, and shortness of breath.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:53 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

The Business Case for Clean Air

Utah Office of Tourism

  Bad air is bad for business – that’s the message from a roundtable discussion at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Air quality on the Wasatch Front can be a problem for agencies trying to persuade businesses to come here.  That was among the the points discussed at Thursday’s meeting.  Mike O’Malley with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development says companies looking to relocate take air quality into consideration.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:28 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Air Quality Board Finalizing Pollution Plan

A winter inversion traps polluted air in the valleys of the Wasatch Front

  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.

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Environment & Public Lands
11:51 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Permit Issued for HollyFrontier Expansion

The HollyFrontier oil refinery in Woods Cross, Utah
Dan Bammes

  The HollyFrontier oil refinery in Woods Cross has been given a green light from the Utah Division of Air Quality to triple its refining capacity – even as it’s promised to reduce pollution.  

The expansion will mean hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment in the refinery as well as at least sixty new jobs.  But HollyFrontier spokesperson Mike Astin says there are still challenges to deal with from groups opposed to it.

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