SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been four years in the making, and now the Utah Division of Air Quality Board has approved a draft plan they believe will get Utah’s pollution in check and within federal standards by the year 2019.
Residents in Utah know that most of the time the Wasatch Front affords beautiful views of the mountains and valley, but they are no strangers to the inversion and bad pollution that can linger for days – sometimes weeks – during the winter. Now, the Utah DAQ has completed their plan for reducing the soot.
Researchers with the DAQ used several air quality, transportation, and population growth models to truly understand the problem. Bryce Bird, Utah Division of Air Quality director, said it was a process that took several years.
“The first three years was devoted to understanding the problem, so we could get the right solution that addresses our unique situation here along the Wasatch Front,” he said.
Bird said their findings show, “Our air quality problems are dominated by what we call secondary formation of particles.”
That means consumer products like hair spray and cleaners: products that produce a gas. Bird said those consumer products produce 10,000 tons of emissions each year.
Bird said cars are another major contributor to Utah’s poor air quality.
“The majority of emissions on a daily basis are coming from automobiles,” he said.
Federal requirements to make cars cleaner get Utah part of the way there, but not far enough. The DAQ has had to put regulations in place for other sources of pollution. There are several sources highlighted in their plan.
Point Sources are industrial operations like refineries, power plants and factories.
Area Sources deal with emissions during cooking or heating a home or business.
On-Road Mobile Sources have to do with cars and vehicle emissions.
Non-Road Mobile Sources include transportation like trains, planes, and construction vehicles.
DAQ officials said they’re confident their proposal will be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, however, there’s a lot at stake with Utah’s highway expansion projects if it doesn’t.
Cory Pope, Utah Department of Transportation director of program development, said several major projects could be impacted.
“The majority of new roads and bridges that are constructed in Utah are constructed with state dollars, so things like the Mountain View Corridor, things like the expansion of I-15, those projects, if they were not already in the pipeline, they could be impacted by something like this,” he said.
The plan will now go through a public comment phase from October 1 through October 30. The DAQ will take the month of November to make any necessary changes based on the public comments. The Board will be asked to again approve the revised plan on December 4. If the plan is approved by the board, it will then be presented to the EPA.