Utah Division of Air Quality

Rocky Mountain Stove & Fireplace

  In his State of the State address to the legislature last January, Governor Gary Herbert suggested a season-long ban on wood burning as a way to improve Utah’s winter air quality.  The state Air Quality Board will decide soon whether to make that the law. 

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

The Utah Air Quality Board has approved a 2.3 million dollar settlement between the medical waste company Stericycle and state environmental regulators.

To be clear, Vice President of Stericycle’s Corporate Communications Jennifer Koenig says the company is not admitting fault for alleged emissions violations at its North Salt Lake incinerator, but she says they’re pleased with the settlement.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

The company that operates a medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake City has agreed to pay a record 2.3 million dollar fine. If approved by Utah’s Air Quality Board at their meeting Wednesday, the settlement would resolve allegations that Stericycle’s incinerator violated emissions limits and falsified stack test results. Bryce Bird, Director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, says it’s a strong settlement.

Dan Bammes

  A member of the Utah legislature is trying again to change the law that keeps the state of Utah from imposing stricter environmental rules than the federal government. 

Republican Representative Becky Edwards of North Salt Lake had a similar bill in the last general session.  It passed the House, but it was defeated in the state Senate, in part because of opposition from industry.

Mark Schoneveld / Flickr Creative Commons

Utah’s air-quality scientists continue to piece together the puzzle of the state’s pollution problem. Recently, they’ve been studying a new piece of it, the toxic components that might be tied to cancer and other severe health conditions

The state Division of Air Quality began to look at toxic chemicals in the Salt Lake Valley’s air pollution after an outcry from clean air advocates last winter.

winter air inversion
Erik Crossman - University of Utah

The Utah Air Quality board will discuss and develop strategies for controlling wood smoke during winter at their monthly meeting Wednesday. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

  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.

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.

Tim Brown / Creative Commons

Should you still go out for that run on days when Utah’s air quality is questionable?  A new website may be able to answer that question, based on your own health and exercise needs. 

The developers of the MyAir website made a presentation to the Utah Air Quality Board this week, explaining their system for evaluating the individual risk of exposure to air pollution.  It’s based on the user’s health and fitness level as well as on the air quality on any given day.

Brian Grimmett

Utahns concerned about air quality can now get real-time updates right on their smartphone with a new app called “Utah Air.” The app is a joint project between the Utah Division of Air Quality and students at Weber State University.

Utah Governor's Office

Governor Gary Herbert has created a committee with dozens of high-profile people from around the state to look at solutions to Utah’s air quality problems, while critics were blasting a state plan meant to meet stricter federal pollution standards. 

Governor Gary Herbert says everything’s on the table as his new Clean Air Action Team begins its work.  It’s led by Dan Lofgren of Envision Utah and includes 39 members, ranging from the chairman of Intermountain Health Care to Dan McArthur, the mayor of St. George.

Wikimedia Commons

Activist groups are planning to ask Utah’s state Air Quality Board to support a complete ban on wood burning for Utah's urban counties.

Andrea Smardon

As activists and community members step up the pressure to shut down a North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator, Stericycle officials are denying the company violated emissions limits or rigged stack test results. They are challenging a list of citations filed by Utah regulators against the company's incinerator. That means the beginning of a legal process that could take months.

Andrea Smardon

As angry residents continue to protest Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator and its toxic emissions, some local officials have been discussing the possibility of moving the plant to another location.

North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave met with Stericycle’s  Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs earlier this week. He says he thinks the incinerator should find another home outside the city, and that Stericycle may be open to that possibility.

Dan Bammes

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.

winter air inversion
Erik Crossman - University of Utah

  The state of Utah missed a deadline last December for submitting a plan to federal authorities to reduce air pollution on the Wasatch Front.  But the public will get a look at a new draft plan in a couple of weeks.

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich is turning her attention to North Salt Lake City. At the request of residents, Brockovich and her team have decided to conduct an independent investigation into air pollution violations by Stericycle and the company’s medical waste incinerator. Angry residents and activists are protesting in front of Stericycle Thursday evening demanding that Governor Gary Herbert shut it down.

Andrea Smardon

Activist groups and North Salt Lake residents are planning another protest of Stericycle, a medical waste incinerator accused of violating pollution limits and falsifying emissions tests.  The event on August 15th is being planned after state regulators gave the company a second extension to decide if it will challenge the allegations against them.

The Utah Division of Air Quality regulates airborne dust and other pollution from sand and gravel operations – and a new legislative audit says it could be doing a better job.  

The Legislative Auditor General’s office cites lost paperwork, long delays and enforcement of permits that haven’t been issued yet as problems in the way the division regulates sand and gravel operations.

Bryce Bird, the director of the Division of Air Quality, says it’s clear there’s room for improvement.

The state’s Director of the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) says there is a possibility the agency will revoke the permit of Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake.  DAQ Director Bryce Bird met with concerned members of the community, and health and environmental advocates today (WED). They called on the agency to shut down the incinerator, which they say is an urgent public health threat.

North Salt Lake resident Natasha Hincks Henderson

North Salt Lake residents are stepping up pressure to close a medical waste incinerator in their neighborhood. Environmental and health advocates are joining them in a protest outside Stericycle’s incinerator Tuesday evening, and representatives from the group will be meeting with the Director of the state’s Division of Air Quality to voice their concerns Wednesday morning. Among the protestors concerns is the use of a bypass stack which allows the company to release unfiltered, toxic pollutants like dioxin and mercury directly into the air.

North Salt Lake resident Natasha Hincks Henderson

Environmental advocates and concerned residents will be holding a protest Tuesday evening at Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake. They want the incinerator – which emits dioxins and other toxic chemicals - shut down.

Protest organizer Bradley Angel is Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. He says Stericycle’s incinerator is a direct threat to the health of the families in the neighborhood.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert demonstrated three simple things Utahns can do to help lower harmful emissions as he kicked off Clean Air Month at a house across the street from the State Capitol today.

Governor Herbert says Utahns aren’t always aware of the simple ways we can help clean up the air but gave these three tips while declaring May Clean Air Month. One could update older fuel storage containers, use paints with low amounts of volatile organic compounds, and replace gas powered yard equipment with cleaner alternatives.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is now taking public comment on proposed new cleaner fuels and cars standards. Known as Tier 3 of the Clean Air Act Amendments, they’re designed to improve air quality and public health by reducing the sulfur content of gasoline and making cars more efficient. 

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.

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. 

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