Clean air advocates propose changes to Utah laws aimed at improving air quality

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A smoggy skyline takes over the valley during winter inversions, and advocates for cleaner air are calling on the state to pass new rules regarding air quality.

“Utah is in more than a decade of violating national standards for dirty air,” said Matt Pacenza, Executive Director of HEAL Utah.

That's why Pacenza is proposing new rules to the state's Air Quality Board.

“We've been working on these rules for many months, and we believe they represent a terrific opportunity for the state of Utah to strengthen its safeguards,” Pacenza said.

Members of HEAL Utah, the Western Resource Advocates, and the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment proposed the new rules to the Air Quality Board Wednesday.

“They do a series of things we think can limit emissions and put up safeguards,” Pacenza said.

The proposals would apply to power plants, oil refineries and cement plants and would be strengthening already existing laws. Two of the rules would put caps on emissions from industries and increase business industrial monitoring. The fourth would increase the time public can give input during a permitting process.

“Ultimately we hope the board will adopt these rules and the rules will become state law,” said Joro Walker, Director for the Utah Office of Western Resource Advocates.

The air quality board says this is only the second or third time an outside group has proposed new rules in the past 40 years. Now, the proposals will go through a lengthy process.

“We appreciate everyone's interest in air quality, and the focus on good ideas that we can evaluate and make the best benefit to air quality in our area,” said Bryce Bird, Air Quality Director for the Department of Environmental Quality.

The Air Quality Board will now review these proposals, and it's likely they will be addressed at their next meeting in December.

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