Clean Air Advocates: It's Time for Change

Utahns call for legislatures to get serious about clean air

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Saturday's snowstorm did not stop Hundreds of Utahns from gathering at the State's Capitol for the 'Clean Air, No Excuses Rally' - it just pushed them inside. Hosted by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, HEAL Utah, Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, Utah Rivers Council, Utah Moms for Clean Air and Sierra Club, advocates called on officials to clean up the air along the Wasatch Front.
"The people in the state of Utah are tired of bad air," said Senator Jim Dabakis (D) Salt Lake City. 
Senator Dabakis told ABC4 Utah's Brittany Johnson, "Until the people rise up, until they look their legislatures, republicans and democrats in the eye and say get serious about clean air, we're going to have this mess-- we're going to have this continual fight against pollution." 
One major focus of Saturday's rally was the State Legislature which begins meeting on Monday. Clean air advocates said each year their proposals are always considered but they fail to become law, and now it's time for a change and want Utah's elected leaders to listen to the people.
"Utah's leaders, the governors, and our legislatures are not moving fast enough on cleaning up Utah's clean air," expressed Cherise Udell, Founder, Utah Moms for Clean Air. "We're trying to encourage our legislatures to be more courageous, to be bolder and to really take on this number one public health issue for Utah."
Udell admits that although officials are not moving fast enough, the conversation has evolved tremendously is the last ten years.
"Ten years ago no one was talking about it {clean air} and very few, if any, legislatures cared about it. And today the Clean Air Caucus up here on the Hill is the biggest this year than it's ever been."
But if you ask Senator Dabakis, not much has changed.
"Does the state of Utah, does our political leadership, does the governor have the will to look the polluters in the eye and say, 'you know what, we're putting people ahead of pollution,' and so far, for a whole generation, we haven't had that kind of political leadership."
"It's year after year after year the people talk and it's year after year after year that politicians don't listen. If the inversion stays big during the session than they pretend to do something and if it clears up they do nothing."
"We have a system that's rigged. Everything is there for the big corporations and the polluters. No one is there speaking for children's lungs in the state of Utah. Until the people of Utah get serious about clean air. And until they demand it to their Legislatures, until they start making that the highest priority, it's just going to stay the way it has for the last generation."
Clean air advocates issued a 19-point proposal to Utah leaders earlier this week, ahead of today's rally. The blueprint is divided into three categories of vehicles, buildings and industry.
Recommendations include: 
  • Boost transit funding
  • Support electric vehicles
  • Mandate statewide emissions testing
  • Support biking and walking
  • Incentivize cleaner fleet vehicles
  • Institute Home Energy Rating Scores
  • Improve Utah's Building Codes
  • Encourage retrofits of existing buildings
  • Ban polluting lawn equipment
  • Limit wood burning
  • Control Emissions Spikes
  • Require daily monitoring by big polluters
  • Ensure all substantial new industry pollution increases gets offset
  • Require strong controls on "newly regulated" industry
  • Boost Transparency
  • Improve Control of dust
To read the blueprint in its entirety, click here.
For more on the priority issues clean air advocates have, click here.


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