SLC mayor says improving air quality trumps need for rockets’ red glare on holidays

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SALT LAKE CITY -- One of Salt Lake City’s most cherished traditions is in jeopardy of being canceled.

In order to make a statement for clean air, Mayor Ralph Becker has proposed eliminating all city-funded fireworks displays.

“All of the council members are doing a lot of soul searching right now about what’s the right path to take here,” said Kyle LaMalfa, a member of the Salt Lake City Council.

Currently the city holds two displays a year: One at Jordan Park for the Fourth of July and one at Liberty Park for Pioneer Day.

The city budget for those two displays is $25,000.

“The amount of money the city uses to purchase the fireworks is pretty miniscule compared to the city budget as a whole,” LaMalfa said. “What the mayor has done, most of all, is provoke a discussion about how far we are going to go to help clean up the air.”

Some citizens are upset about the prospect of losing the fireworks, while others welcome the idea.

“Well I grew up here so that’s part of growing up in Salt Lake City; I would hate to see those go away due to air pollution,” said one resident.

“Fourth of July fireworks is a red, white and blue tradition, and I’d be really sad to see them go,” said another resident.

Cherise Udell, president of Utah Moms for Clean Air, said, for her, family health outweighs tradition.

“If you look, every Fourth of July, every July 24th here in Utah you will see these big spikes in PM2.5 along with the ozone after we’ve had an episode in fireworks,” Udell said. “I know a lot of the Utah Moms for Clean Air members choose specifically to be gone on the Fourth of July weekend because of how nasty the air gets.”

LaMalfa said he realizes the affect this decision will have on the entire community.

“I’m leaning toward saving the fireworks,” LaMalfa said.

The Salt Lake City Council will be discussing the matter during their June 3 budget hearing at City Hall at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and share their opinions.


  • Trish Ramirez

    Seems like a ridiculous fix. Instead of taking away the fireworks and punishing everyday citizens, perhaps they need to work on reducing commercial air pollution, which is the real crux of the problem in the Salt Lake Valley.

    • Cartman

      What “commercial air pollution” are you talking about? And how many people do you want to un-employ to solve it?

      The REAL real problem is that over a million people (including you) choose to live in a place that’s prone to winter temperature inversions. The only conceivable solution is to live somewhere else.

      • Trish Ramirez

        Yes, displace a million people rather than relocating businesses that employ 1000 or so. Typical conservative logic – money is more important than humanity.

        I’m simply SHOCKED that someone as narrow-minded as you would worship the almighty dollar over the average citizen.

        Go figure.

      • Master Baiter

        Maybe relocate Trish. That seems way easier than relocating thousands of people who contribute to society. All Trish does is complain about how cops are out to get her…

  • Brad

    Trish I agree completely! Apparently Cartman doesn’t have a clue about all the Commercial Factories, Refineries, Mines, etc…. That wouldn’t have to un- employ anyone if they was forced to run operations with technology that lowers CO admissions! If fireworks is a big issues then we need to think about shutting down Miller Race Way, Rocky Mountain Race Way, Ski Resorts that use diesel equipment and many more recreational activates that us citizens enjoy in Utah.
    I am all for the cancellation of the fire works as long as the tax paying money goes into Solar Power upgrades that will also employee thousands of unemployed Utahns!

    • Cartman

      Oh, please. I’ve lived here all my life, and outside of inversions the air has never been better.

      I am foursquare against taxpayer subsidies of ANYTHING. Including pie-in-the-sky “solar” and “wind” projects that couldn’t possible be self-supporting.

      I have a clue about the hundreds of thousands of Utahns whose livelihoods depend on those industries, Brad, and how many of them would be out of business if they were regulated any more than they already are.

      Why about all the diesel trucks that haul to market everything YOU buy, Brad? Hypocrite. If you want to help Utah’s air quality there is nothing you could do that would be more effective than finding someplace else to live. I hear California is doing just GREAT, being filled with people who share your beliefs.

      • Cartman

        By the way, there is no conceivable “solar solution” that will ever do more than scratch the surface of our current energy needs, much less future needs. Nuclear is inevitable.

  • Michelle

    Its not like they are banning all fireworks. Its just two, so what if its not at the same park anymore. There is still dozens of other parks that will have them. Start a new tradition.

    • Trish Ramirez

      Michelle, if cancelling these publicly funded fireworks shows is simply going to cause them to be relocated to different venues and privately funded, then the bottom line is that their cancellation cannot positively impact air quality in any way.

      So what’s the point?

      The truth of the matter is that despite what Eric Anderson (Cartman) has to say about this situation, the truth of the matter is that further regulating industry is the ONLY way that air quality is going to improve in the most populous areas of the state. It is the industrial pollution that causes the vast majority of the air problems in the area. Of COURSE it’s worse in the winter when we deal with inversion, but if you think that the air in this area of the state is only bad during the winter, take a summer or spring road trip and drive back in the SLC – you can see the air haze for 50 miles before you get to the city.

      The truth of the matter is that this area is one of the most thriving in the country – more and more businesses are opening by the day. The vast majority are in the tech and customer service fields, and their existence doesn’t really negatively impact the air quality in a measurable way. As long as our economy continues to boom, our population is going to continue to expand and regulating the basic, expected emissions of the residential population is really an impractical solution.

      It is the INDUSTRIAL community that expels the vast, vast majority of the pollutants into the air, and as such THEY should be the ones held accountable for reducing emissions.

      Sure, it may mean some seriously difficult personnel and relocation decisions, but actually REDUCING emissions rather than selling and trading their emissions credits and paying fines for their over polluting will make the difference necessary to help with our long-term air quality problems.

      Millions of people live along the Wasatch Front – you would really rather penalize every single one of those people than the relatively small fraction involved in uber-polluting industrial business?

      Where is the logic in that?

      (As for the pollution caused by big trucks, you are absolutely right. The state needs to implement much harsher emissions standards for the semi’s that use the I-15 and 1-80 corridors to do their business. It is silly to think that we are going to need FEWER deliveries of goods in the conceivable future, so the only way to protect air quality is the REDUCE EMISSIONS per delivery. Follow the bouncing ball – the answer to solving the air quality problem lies in regulating industry, not punishing private citizens.)

  • Cartman

    Liberals must be deeply unhappy people. That’s the only possible conclusion I can draw from this.

    • Trish Ramirez

      Well, you know what they say, Eric.

      “Ignorance is bliss.”

      It’s easy to be happy if you have no concern for the way your actions impact the lives of others and don’t think worrying about the future of the environment is in any way your responsibility.

      If you live in a little bubble and believe that we can continue going on as we have been doing for the last 100 years and everything will be hunky dory, that we have no responsibility for the kind of world we leave future generations and that by making enough money and creating enough jobs (regardless of their impact on the Earth) we can somehow sustain our lifestyles and everything will somehow be ‘just fine,’ then is must be easy to be happy about everything.

      Not caring is FUN.

  • BRAD

    Thanks Cartman! I stand Corrected! There is nothing that can be done! I hope you tell that to all the citizens of Salt Lake City! The answer to the worst air quality in the US is to move to a different state!

  • Paul

    What a bunch of BS. Even if it does help the Air Quality it wont help much because the privately funded displays will still be held.

  • Politically Incorrect.

    If fireworks are canceled over “air quality” then I’ll make sure to idle me car extra long, run my AC this summer extra high, set off as many private fireworks I can, and maybe have a fire in my back yard every night to counter act this stupid idea… Those fireworks aren’t the problem…

  • Debby AnneGibson Moore Marchant

    There are many cities here, in the county of King and the state of Washington, that have already banned fireworks. The results have been positive overall. Not only is the air cleaner for humans to breathe, there are less fires, there are less alarming noises on the nerves, and the lives of wild and domestic animals are respected and protected too. I wholeheartedly encourage citizens and the city leadership of Salt Lake City to embrace welcoming in a new and healthy era of being firework~free.

    • Politically Incorrect.

      You want to make SLC even more weird? Adding this to all of the LDS fun-killing laws, utah will be an even larger laughing stock to normal America… Go move to one of those states that make nanny-laws for everything…

  • Enviro Equipment, Inc.

    We’ve known for long time now that firework displays are very unhealthy, especially for residents who live nearby so, from a public health standpoint, let’s hope Salt Lake’s example is one that will spread to other large cities and hopefully will need to last polluting fireworks being used by the companies and put on these types of displays.

    • Politically Incorrect.

      One night a year isn’t good to kill anyone… All the other toxins everyone takes in from everything else will. Fourth of July and Fireworks go together like liberals and fun-killing ideas.

    • Trish Ramirez

      OF COURSE they aren’t good for air quality. But we are not talking about an event that happens every night. It is a once or twice a year thing that brings communities together and that people absolutely love. There are other ways to improve air quality that would have a much bigger overall impact on the problem and which wouldn’t be a kick in the teeth to the huge percentage of the population that gets so much enjoyment out of these displays. As people have pointed out, cancelling these publicly funded events would just mean that they would turn into privately funded events. It would do no good and negatively impact a lot of people. There are better ways to handle this. Maybe we could restrict some of our controlled burns in the summer – which cause MUCH MORE pollution to offset the couple of nights of enjoyment.

  • Bruce Chapman

    PATRIIDIOTIC- We would die for our country even if that means from smoke from us celebrating it

Comments are closed.

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