air quality

Andrea Smardon

Utah physicians declared a public health emergency in the middle of a particularly bad air pollution season this year, pointing to spikes in ER visits, respiratory and cardiovascular episodes, and even deaths.  Governor Gary Herbert declined to declare an emergency and says that some activists are exaggerating the problem. In the final story in our series of reports on Clearing the Air, KUER looks at what we know and don’t know about the health effects of Utah’s air pollution. 

With the last week of the Legislative session underway, lawmakers approved two bills in the Senate and House yesterday geared toward improving the region’s air quality.  

Utah DEQ Ready For New EPA Chief

Mar 6, 2013
EPA

  The head of Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality says she’s had a good experience working with the person picked to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  Gina McCarthy was head of E-P-A’s air quality division until President Obama tapped her for the top job this week.

Amanda Smith at  DEQ says she’s optimistic McCarthy will be able to work with the state on Utah’s unique problems, such as winter ozone in the Uintah Basin.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert along with legislators and government leaders are putting their support behind a bill that would help local and state agencies expand their fleets of Compressed Natural Gas vehicles.

The University of Utah is starting a new center to study air pollution and its impacts on health and society.  The U hosted a retreat Monday, bringing academics together to talk about what they have to contribute and how they can collaborate. 

The Utah House passed a bill today that would provide tax credits to those who purchase clean fuel vehicles over the next five years. 

Republican Representative Jack Draxler’s bill, HB 96, would change the current tax incentive program by eliminating credits for gasoline and propane vehicles.  The Logan lawmaker hopes his legislation would motivate people to buy cars and trucks that produce minimal or zero emissions.

The Utah Legislature looks at a bill that would delay the start date for Utah’s guest worker program, the so-called “Zion Curtain” may be coming down, and KUER’s Dan Bammes takes a look at how Utah’s Industries are contributing to air pollution.

Clearing the Air: Big Industry

Feb 28, 2013
Dan Bammes

The air pollution that we can see suspended in the cold air trapped during Utah’s infamous temperature inversions is called PM 2.5 – particulate matter 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller.  Just how much of that comes from large industrial polluters is a subject of some dispute, along with just what should be done about it. Dan Bammes has the third in our series of reports on Clearing the Air.

In part two of our series on clearing the air KUER’s Terry Gildea takes a look at what state lawmakers are doing, the legislature gets its first look at several gun bills, and Senator Orrin Hatch brings gloom and doom to the House and Senate Floor.

Andrea Smardon

As Utahns persist through one of the worst winter inversion seasons in a decade, many have focused their frustration and anger over dirty air on elected officials in the Utah legislature.  In part two of our series Clearing the Air, KUER News explores the  short and long term solutions lawmakers are proposing.

Governor Gary Herbert weighs in on a potential statewide anti-discrimination bill, the Utah Senate gives preliminary approval to a bill that would require the state to collect abortion statistics, and oil and gas drilling are the cause of most of the air pollution in the Uintah basin.

Study Looks at Uintah Basin Ozone

Feb 19, 2013
Dan Bammes

  After a year of studying winter ozone air pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin, a team of scientists has determined that oil and gas wells are causing most of the problem.  

The team at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus studied ozone last winter – when there were only a few inversion days and not much of a problem.  It’s been worse this year, and Seth Lyman with the Bingham Research Center says a big part of the problem is the volatile organic compounds such as benzene coming from thousands of oil and gas wells.

Local government leaders call on the state legislature to act on cleaning up the air, nearly a dozen nonprofits working to end violence against women put on a dance show at the State Capitol, and a group of same-sex couples in Salt Lake use Valentine’s day to bring attention to marriage equality.

Brian Grimmett

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker joined Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell at the State capitol today in announcing their ideas on how government on both the local and state level can help improve air quality.

A new report says that Utah would benefit from Medicaid expansion, protests continue over Utah’s poor air quality, and Dixie State College is on it’s way to becoming a University.

Utahns are well-acquainted with the dirty air lurking beyond their front doors in a winter inversion or summer ozone day.  A long string of unhealthy air days this winter has many residents saying "enough". Today KUER News and RadioWest begin “Clearing the Air,” a special series aimed at exploring the problem of Utah’s poor air quality and ways to improve it.  One of the contributing factors is car emissions, but is public transit a viable option for those living on the Wasatch Front? Can people use their cars less without compromising their lifestyle? 

Brian Grimmett

 A group of Democratic legislators are introducing six new bills in an effort to help tackle Utah’s poor air quality.

The content of the proposed bills ranges from offering free passes for UTA Buses and TRAX trains to allowing the state to put in place stricter restrictions than the Environmental Protection Agency already requires. Representative Joel Briscoe is sponsoring the bill that would fund giving away free UTA passes. He says even with a tight budget this is something that should be attainable.

Utahns crowd into Governor Herbert’s Capitol office demanding clean air, the LDS church weighs in on boy Scouts and gays, and local political and environmental leaders give their take on President Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior appointment.

Andrea Smardon

Utah citizens and activists gathered on the steps of the Capitol Wednesday to demand action to clean up the state’s polluted air.  The rally was part of a grassroots effort, including a Facebook campaign and petition.

University of Utah student Carl Ingwell started the Facebook campaign, urging people to inundate the Utah governor’s office with calls and e-mails, demanding action. His campaign led him to the steps of the Capitol, speaking to about 150 concerned citizens.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert promotes Prosperity 2020 goals in Washington, D.C., Utah Democrats call for the protection of Utah’s greater canyonlands, and the Division of Air Quality is targeting the use of toxic consumer cleaning products.

Most strategies to reduce air pollution in northern Utah focus on emissions from cars and industry, but the state’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is targeting another source of pollution – the products in our bathroom cupboards, cleaning closets, and garage shelves.  The DAQ board will consider a new rule Wednesday that would regulate consumer products containing volatile organic compounds. 

The Utah State Legislature begins today with many new faces, clean air advocates files a lawsuit against the EPA, and Congressmen Jim Matheson introduces legislation to limit kids’ access to violent video games.

Andrea Smardon

Clean air advocates filed a legal challenge last week against the US Environmental Protection Agency, claiming a new policy allows some coal-fired power plants to continue releasing haze-causing pollutants in Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.  Environmental organization HEAL Utah was one of the groups who filed the challenge with the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. 

Governor Gary Herbert addresses air quality, guns, and the allegations brought against Utah Attorney General John Swallow in his monthly news conference, Utahns say they are willing to pay more taxes for better education, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson speaks at the University of Utah.

A spokeswoman for Utah Governor Gary Herbert says the governor disagrees with dozens of Utah Doctors who say the region’s current air pollution levels are causing a public healthcare emergency.  A group of physicians hand-delivered a letter to the Governor’s office Wednesday afternoon, asking him to take prompt action to address poor air quality along the Wasatch Front and in Cache Valley.

The Utah Republican Party makes its first statement on the allegations surrounding Attorney General John Swallow, the Outdoor Retailers show will be staying in Salt Lake for at least two more years, and a group of Utah physicians says the bad air quality is a health emergency.

2013 is the year of the bike for Salt Lake City. That's one commitment Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker outlined in his annual state of the city address last night. 

The Utah Sheriff’s Association says they will not enforce federal gun laws they see as unconstitutional, air quality warnings are absent from UDOT signs, and people across the Salt Lake Valley spend their day serving others to honor Martin Luther King.

UDOT Signs Silent on Air Quality

Jan 21, 2013
Utah Department of Transportation

Two events that attract tens of thousands of visitors to Utah are taking place this week: The Sundance Film Festival and the winter Outdoor Retailers show. Some activist groups are wondering if there's an effort to avoid drawing attention to the state's lousy air quality while they're in town.

Refinery Promises Cleaner Air

Jan 4, 2013
Utah Division of Air Quality

The Holly oil refinery in Woods Cross is promising to reduce its air pollution significantly at the same time it's expanding to handle twice as much crude oil from eastern Utah.

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