Air Quality in the Utah Legislative Session
The Utah Legislative Session is in its final days. All proposed bills must be passed before midnight on March 9.
Salt Lake City has staff who attend important hearings, speak to our legislators, and represent the City’s interests in the 45-day session. Here in the Sustainability Department, we closely follow important bills particularly as they relate to air quality, energy, food, and other sustainability initiatives.
One of the most impactful ways to improve air quality is to fully fund the state agencies that must research and regulate it. This is a common sense measure that Salt Lake City supports. Because it is not under our purview to regulate air quality permits, emissions, or compliance with the federal Clean Air Act, we want to see the State’s Division of Air Quality– which does undertake those tasks–receive the funding they need to do their jobs effectively.
However, receiving their full appropriations request is never a sure thing.
In the waning days of the 2017 session, we hope the Utah Legislature will support clean air funding and other bills to reduce pollution.
For more information, please read the below copy of Breathe Utah’s recent letter to the Executive Appropriations Committee. To stay informed on air quality legislation, please visit HEAL Utah, Breathe Utah, Utah Clean Energy, or Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
March 8, 2017
To: The Honorable Members of the Executive Appropriations Committee
Re: Budget for the Division of Air Quality
Breathe Utah very much appreciates the Legislature’s past funding for DAQ research that is providing useful understanding of our atmosphere and its chemistry. We ask that you appropriate the Governor’s requested budget for DAQ, for monitors and research.
We understand these are extraordinary budget times, with uncertainty on many levels. Regardless, fully funding DAQ is important to public health. Evidence is accumulating that even short episodes of pollution have lasting effect on our bodies. With our geography, we will always find it challenging to keep our air healthy during the worst of inversions. Our economy can grow as we show we are doing our best. As our population grows, so does the challenge. The work of DAQ must not lose momentum.
We depend on accurate monitors for several reasons. A well calibrated system of monitors provides necessary input to the modeling programs: we need to understand what effects different emissions have. We need to understand how to decrease our emissions and the cost associated with each possibility as we plan our air policy for the future. It is also useful to compare current and historic data. Citizens are seeking reliable information about monitor levels as they make decisions about their own pollution footprint and when & how to take protective measures for sensitive people. We need monitoring for solutions that protect our communities and families.
Please keep the funding of DAQ as your high priority. Underfunding will result in unrealized improvements in our air quality, because our ability to understand it is slowed. The health of our children, and theirs, depends on the priorities you set now.
Utahns want clean air for everyone.
Thank you for your consideration,
Kathy Van Dame
On behalf of the Board and Staff of Breathe Utah
Deborah Sigman, PhD
Executive Director, Breathe Utah