Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

Tesoro Corporation

One of Utah’s major sources of industrial air pollution, Tesoro Refinery, is on track to get a federal Clean Air Act permit after operating for more than 15 years without one. Utah environmental regulators reached a settlement agreement Tuesday with conservation groups who had sued the state for failing to issue the permit.

DEQ Report Looks at Environmental Challenges

Dec 29, 2014
Lin Meiyun / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  The Utah Department of Environmental Quality issued its annual report on Monday. It talks about some of the success the department’s had this year, but also looks at challenges that lie ahead.

Andrea Smardon / KUER News

For years, Utah’s air pollution problem was virtually ignored by policy makers -- even when the air was foul for weeks at a time. But a growing activist movement has made the issue a top priority for a majority of Utahns, thanks in large part to Moench.

He stood on the State Capitol steps last January in front of thousands of people. Winter smog surrounded them.

Moench, the leader and founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, called on the crowd to continue prodding Utah lawmakers to clear the skies.

Groups Appeal Holly-Frontier Refinery Expansion

Dec 19, 2013
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.

Permit Issued for HollyFrontier Expansion

Nov 19, 2013
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.

Groups Ask DAQ to Support Wood Burning Ban

Oct 1, 2013
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.

Clean Air Groups Challenge Kennecott Expansion

Sep 24, 2013
Kennecott Utah Copper

  A hearing is underway this afternoon in federal court on a challenge to Kennecott’s plan to expand the Bingham Canyon copper mine.  Representatives from Utah Moms for Clean Air, Wild Earth Guardians, the Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment all say Kennecott can’t move ahead with its expansion without approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Doctor Brian Moench says that’s needed even though the Utah Division of Air Quality has already signed off on it.

Earth Day Demonstration at Governor's Mansion

Apr 22, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert is out of the country right now on a trade mission in Israel.  But that didn’t stop environmentalists from holding an Earth Day rally right in front of the Governor’s Mansion on South Temple.

As traffic whizzed by on one of Salt Lake City’s busiest streets, demonstrators wrote their messages of protest on blue ribbons.  They had to tie them to a volleyball net because they weren’t allowed to put them on the governor’s wrought-iron fence.

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. 

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.