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Thousands rally for clean air at Utah State Capitol

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SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 5,000 protestors, many wearing gas masks and carrying signs, gathered on the steps of the state capitol building Saturday to demand clean air action in the state.

The protest signs read "health before wealth" and "Utah air makes me sick."

People in the crowd said they've waited for years for the air to improve, but now they want to do something about it.

“This is a big, big loud message to the legislature that we want action now, and we are watching very closely,” said Cherise Udell, who is the founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air.

The crowd was made up of several different interest groups, some pushing for natural gas, while others consider themselves activists against industry, but the vast majority of protestors were just people concerned about the air they breathe.

“I think people are thinking twice before relocating,” Protestor Wendy Zeigler said. “I think people are thinking twice before vacationing here, and it's going to affect our entire economy.”

People in dust masks said they can feel the bad air affecting their lungs, causing headaches and prolonging their illnesses.

“My oldest son Gavin, he has asthma and he didn't have asthma until we moved to Utah a couple years back,” Protestor Tracy Proffitt said.

Protestors said the timing is right to speak up, as the legislative session is just days away.

FOX 13 News' Ashton Goodell and Todd Tanner provided team coverage of the rally and the reactions of various leaders, check out the videos above for their reports.

Related story: Stericycle officials say they are 'seriously considering' moving facility 


  • Ash

    I bussed it from 1000 S and the buses were full to capacity. My friend and I waited for another bus, along with a couple dozen people, because the first was too full, and UTA ran a special bus every 10 mins to the capitol.
    There were many pedestrians and bicyclists as well. The capitol just does not have enough parking to accommodate 5,000 people in individual cars anyway.

  • Tina Escobar-Taft

    This IMBECILE, her 2 children and husband took UTA and walked, thank you very much. When you start insulting others and throwing mud, your message is lost due to the fact you cannot control your emotions. I am sure Mr. Anderson, you too will enjoy the cleaner air I and my fellow advocates marched for today. If not, feel free to move to Tooele County and set up residence next to Stericycle, they will be happy to have you.


    The 5,000 attendees of the Clean Air Now rally

      • want clean air now

        Seriously Eric, why must you think that everyone there was a liberal. I personally am not a liberal. I am a conservative. As well as everyone else I know that was there. It not like we are all stupid and ignorant to the fact taxand cars run off of resources. But those 5000 people would have drove somewhere and done something, but instead they chose to be doing a worthwhile cause because they KNOW that Utah’s air quality is being sold. YOU however must be so completely ignorant to that fact and it shows just how much you REALLY don’t know. I’m sure that 5000 other people in Utah went to various other places and drove there vehicles and DIDNT make an attempt to carpool with each other or use transit, why aren’tyou chastising them? Did you know that there were physicians at this event (who by the way are as conservative as you can get) that are educated on Utah’s air quality? Will there always be an inversion, yes. Are there things we can do to prevent the severity of it, YES! Why are you turning your back to facts and knowledge? Oh wait…your too busy trash talking to actually LOOK STUFF UP. You just want to believe what you want to hear. By the way…fun fact: did you know that medical incineration is banned in almost every other state? Oh wait…it gets better. Medical incineration is an outdated way of handling medical waste. There are ways that have been around for years that produce 0 emissions. Did you know that several states are sending there medical waste here to get a discount on handling medical waste? Did you know the medical incinerator in North Salt Lake puts out more pollutant that are more toxic than a full scale coal refinery? AKA Stericycle. They are a multi BILLION dollar company… that lied and rigged there own stack tests. Every one that I know that went yesterday wanted this place held accountable and shut down. They have the means and the ability to go to zero emissions technology but they are tight wads who don’t care about Utah. (By the way, incase your rant is targeted to the surrounding g communities that live by this thing, the smoke stack that’s filtered produces radio active particulates that the farther away it gets, the worse it is at causing cancer. They also run off a unfiltered stack multiple times a year, that’s burning chemo, cancerous limbs, aborted babies, metals…they are only suppose to do that a couple times a year. Did you know these guys not only pollute our air but they have been linked to the reason that autism is the highest in Utah? I wonder if you even got this far in reading this…i could go on and on mister. If your a conservative you sure give conservatism a bad name. Who knows maybe your an independent. Your political views and judgements are completely uncalled for. Your rudeness and arrogance on issues your not even educated on is uncalled for, and like any two yr old you will probably respond back with some toxic negative words and throw your fit using negativity and put downs. Just shows your character.

      • RyNo

        So what’s the fix then if you know everything about air quality? I cannot carpool to work nor take public transportation to it. Should we just stop driving, turn off all of our power, shut down all the plants in the valley and lay off the workers? This rally was just 4000 people whining with no real solution. Typical activist… Whine whine whine but yell at someone else to fix the problem… I am glad my vehicle is registered out of state where I do not have to follow Utah emissions, or any emissions for that matter, have fun with your regulations, they won’t touch my car!

    • Eric Anderson

      Thank God the hippies are here to save me! LOL!

      The only thing standing between me and choking to death are some boneheads carrying signs. Bless you! I feel much safer already.

    • gretchen

      I just don’t get it – how people can exist in this world without trying to make it a better place! Putting their own selfish views above others. I am so sick of these ignorant fools.

    • Eric Anderson

      Eric Anderson. And yes, you’re imbeciles.

      How many of the 5000 got there on “mass transit”? Which, by the way, is subsidized by my tax dollars? Most of you DROVE. They did NOT bring a whole bunch of extra buses and TRAX cars online on a Saturday to haul you all up there. If they DID, then you still contributed to the bad air. Buses are filthy things. TRAX runs on COAL. (Or do you think electricity comes from rainbows and unicorn kisses?)

      Want to know why the air is dirty? Because over a million people have chosen to live in a place that is subject to wintertime temperature inversions. If we all ate nothing but organic tofu and rubbed patchuli on ourselves and stopped shaving or wearing bras the air would STILL be filthy in the winter.

      Are you aware, or do you choose to forget, that today’s vehicles (including big SUVs) are cleaner than they were in the 1990s by an order of magnitude? And several orders cleaner than in the 1980s. In other words, a new Suburban with a big block V8 produces a tiny fraction of the pollution that a VW hippie bus produces. They’re so clean that they have to have stainless steel exhaust systems because they produce almost nothing but water vapor. But multiply that by a MILLION and you get a mess. I don’t care whether you drive an SUV or a Prius: If you want cleaner air, GO AWAY. YOU are the reason why the air is dirty.

      Bunch of sheep. All signs and slogans, no common sense.

    • Melanie

      Just curious, Branon – Do you like the air quality in the Salt Lake Valley?

      The citizen’s at today’s rally love Utah and want it to be a beautiful and healthy place for generations to come.

      • Eric Anderson

        And if enough of them congregate they can make it happen? LOL!

        “If we all think happy thoughts we can change local climate patterns.” Do a Snow Dance while you’re at it. We can use the water.

        Cars, trucks, industry…..all so much cleaner than just a few years ago it’s amazing. But an inversion is still an inversion. We are still going to produce a certain amount of mess. It gets trapped in the winter air. Sorry, but that’s reality.

        Exactly what do YOU, Melanie, propose we do about it? I want specifics. I want a scientifically valid, demonstrable, practical solution. I want details. Not political B.S. and empty rhetoric that can be easily readable on cardboard signs and bumper stickers. This is your big chance: Enlighten us, please.

        I’ll wait.

  • Rhonda

    When all you people go off the grid completely, then you can complain. Stop using electricity, natural gas, gasoline. Ride your bikes pitch tents and build a campfire, oh yeah pollution. Environmental restrictions are so bad now pretty soon more and more power plants, refineries and coal mines are going to be shut down. We are already seeing skyrocketing prices, what can you possibly hope to accomplish? Go to California and see how all their EPA regulations are working out for them!

    • Eric Anderson

      But their lives don’t cause pollution, because their politics are correct.

      Note how many of them think they didn’t contribute to the problem because they used “mass transit”……which, of course, produces no pollution. They brag about how full the buses were, and how many extra ones UTA had to run today. But they didn’t pollute. The special hippie buses run on the joyful thoughts of dolphins. They actually ABSORB conservative fumes and convert them into energy. We conservatives missed that day in physics because we were all marching in our black uniforms.

      Liberals don’t use logic. They use emotion. And their fondest wishes create their reality. There is no such thing as objective reality to a liberal. The truth is what they WANT it to be. And you can’t win an argument with them. They actually believe what they say. The climate IS warming. Taxes DO create prosperity. Etc. The world is flat. 2 + 2 = 5.

  • Eric Anderson

    I was in L.A. recently and was struck by how amazingly clean the air is. Must be all those liberals, and all their government regulations. No smog in sight. It’s a Festivus MIRIACLE!

    Oh, wait……except the air was incredibly filthy, and burned my lungs.

    It’s dirty for the same reason our air is dirty: Lots of humans in a small area.

    They’ve “regulated” themselves into insolvency. Their economy is a mess. They’re taxed into oblivion. They flee HERE in droves…..and then whine because Utah isn’t doing enough to turn us into another California.

    When California actually has clean air then I’ll listen to your nonsense. But it doesn’t. It’s notoriously dirty.

    People = Pollution. Don’t want pollution? Kill yourself. I’m all for doing what’s reasonable, subject to my need to work for a living and support myself and my family without requiring public assistance. Got anything like THAT? Wrecking our economy will not make the air cleaner.

  • ivan

    This area was known for pollution when there was just a small population. It is a natural feature of the area. Unless you want to alter the weather or the mountains it is going to continue. You might as well protest against the sun rising.

  • ivan

    I am going to start a protest against 20 degree temperatures in Salt Lake City during the winter My friend was warm in Texas but she came here and she was cold. She could have died!

  • Dave T

    Can they create new contests and new surveys to implement a better organized mass transit system? Thus you get more people to use mass-transit. Then you decrease air pollution, as a result.
    For example, can they build driverless solar/electric powered vehicles to transport people from their homes to area bus stops? These area bus stops would be weather enclosed. Then natural gas powered buses could transport people to the trains’ stations. These stations should be weather enclosed as well. Then they would also create fewer stops on the Frontrunner, for example. Buses could transport people from let us say Roy to Ogden, Clearfield to Layton, Farmington to Layton, Woods Cross to North Temple, this way the Frontrunner would make 3 stops to Salt Lake from Ogden, instead 6 stops. Thus you speed up the time to ride the Frontrunner. Then you create lower the times to ride the Frontrunner. Then more people will more likely ride this train service
    Now this is just one suggestion; however, they could create new contests among college students to create an even better plan. And for the winner, they may get free mass-transit for a whole year; plus a huge letter of recommendation for them to apply for a job, college scholarships or to get into graduate school as a result.
    Surveys must also be included for non-riders to see what would it take for them to use mass-transit. UTA could set up booths at grocery stores for example. They would have laptops with 4g networks, so they can play a video about the need for better mass transit in order to reduce air pollution. Then it would state the challenge to meet this need is YOU. Then they would ask people, what would need to change in order for them to ride mass-transit? They would then input the results into this laptop they possess. This way the survey will help UTA produce an even better mass transit system as a result.
    So please consider creating new contests, new surveys and change the way mass-transit is organized from these inputs. Then perhaps we may get thousands of cars off the roads. Thus you help greatly reduce air pollution as a result.

  • smyu111

    To curb Utah’s haze and air pollution, use water

    New geoengineering research suggests pollution-control measures inspired by watering a garden
    A new idea to cut back on air pollution: spray water into the atmosphere from sprinklers atop tall buildings and towers, similar to watering a garden. This suggestion comes from Shaocai Yu of Zhejiang University in China, and North Carolina State University in the US. In an article published in Springer’s journal Environmental Chemistry Letters, Yu suggests this course of action as a novel approach to help curb the severe air pollution and heavy haze that is experienced in many Chinese cities, as well as others around the world.
    Over the past 30 years the megacities of China have suffered from air pollution because of the nation’s decades-long burst of economic and industrial growth. Moreover, air pollution of this nature is not easy to manage, because the pollution typically comes from a variety of sources such as coal-based energy, traffic and heating in the megacities themselves.
    But in a new article, Yu proposes spraying water into the atmosphere to simulate natural types of precipitation that are able to most effectively scavenge or collect and remove aerosol and gaseous pollutants. And while chemical agents can be added to the water sprayed for other purposes, Yu recommends forgoing the addition of these chemicals to keep the process as natural as possible to avoid side effects that might cause harm to the environment. Finally, because water that is used for these purposes could be collected and reused, adopting this kind of plan would not exacerbate existing water shortages.
    Yu predicts that this geoengineering scheme could help to reduce the fine particle load in the atmosphere efficiently to a safer level of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. And it could be done in a short time, depending how the water is sprayed. This geoengineering technique needs to be implemented daily to avoid the accumulation of air pollution in the atmosphere and the occurrence of haze. According to Yu, this option is very natural, technologically feasible, efficient and low cost. All the necessary technologies and materials required to make it work are already available, from high buildings, towers and aircraft, to weather modification technology and automatic sprinkler heads.
    “With careful and considered evaluation beforehand for each area in the cities, this geoengineering approach can be environmentally safe without significant side effects. It can also be deployed easily within communities and on a massive scale at low cost,” Yu writes. “If you can spend half an hour watering your garden, you can also spend 30 minutes watering your ambient atmosphere to keep the air clean with this technique.”
    Research and experiments are currently underway to design a suitable water-delivery system to successfully implement this geoengineering option.
    Yu, S. (2013). Water spray geoengineering to clean air pollution for mitigating haze in China’s cities, Environmental Chemistry Letters. DOI 10.1007/s10311-013-0444-0.
    The full text article is open tot he public on SpringerLink.

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