The EPA recently labeled two Utah communities as “serious” nonattainment areas, because a 2015 deadline for complance with federal small-partciulate pollution rules was missed. The Salt Lake City and Provo metro areas are the two that received the designation. While the designation is only for those two areas, the majority of the Utah population resides in those two areas. It is a big deal.
The air pollution problem in Utah is not a new one, but the Utah Legislature, session after session, has stubbornly refused to take any meaningful action on the issue. Air quality advocacy groups, however, are proliferating and making their voices heard. The Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, or MESA, is speaking up on behalf of children, present and future. Local environmetalists and physicians are participating in the international Unmask My City campain aimed at encouraging health care providers to become engaged on the issue in their communties. Meanwhile, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment are doing their part to encourage citizens to focus their advocacy on their elected leaders. Finally, the Utah Climate Action Network is focusing its efforts on indivudal citizes to make changes in their lifetyles, such as stop using wood burning fireplaces and stoves, and not making unnecessary trips in gas powered vehicles. The premise is that we need everyone, at the state and local levels, to be engaged if we really want to tackle the issue. It is a good premise.