utah state implementation plan

This op-ed was authored by Joro Walker, general counsel with Western Resource Advocates. It originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune on May 4, 2020. 

While our skies here on the Wasatch Front have been crystal clear in recent weeks, winter inversions and summer ozone buildup mean we are all too aware of the connection between air quality and our health. Now, researchers are finding greater health risks from the coronavirus due to air pollution, underscoring the importance of cleaning up our air permanently, for our health and our future prosperity.

State policy makers and business leaders have begun contemplating economic recovery plans for Utah even as front-line health care providers are scrambling to help manage the still-unfolding public health crisis. We face huge economic and health care challenges ahead. But this is also a moment of decision.

In my years of working on air quality issues that plague Utah, I have delved into the causes of our air pollution as well as legal and policy solutions to address it. I know that poor air quality impacts all of us who are exposed to it, especially the most vulnerable among us: children, the elderly, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses. Air pollution is also a threat to job recruitment and our economic future.