April 14, 2022
Western Resource Advocates today lauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for issuing a proposed decision requiring the state of Utah to do more to address local ozone pollution in the Northern Wasatch Front. The EPA’s draft decision to bump the region up to a moderate nonattainment area for failing to meet the 2015 federal eight-hour standard for ozone pollution, which is detrimental to public health and wellbeing, would require Utah to reduce local ozone-causing emissions and improve air quality.
The proposed decision is now subject to a 60-day public comment period. WRA is urging Utahns to participate in the public comment process and encourage EPA to hold Utah accountable for reducing dangerous ozone pollution. Utahns can submit comments here.
“This draft decision by EPA is the right call and, if finalized, would require the state of Utah to take specific and concrete action to tackle the Northern Wasatch Front’s ozone pollution crisis,” said Joro Walker, Western Resource Advocates’ general counsel based in Salt Lake City. “When Utah reduces emissions, it reduces local ozone pollution. Making the Northern Wasatch Front a moderate nonattainment area for ozone will hold our state leaders accountable for cleaning up our air using the variety of tools at their fingertips. This will help address climate change while protecting Utahns, particularly children and residents in disproportionately impacted communities, from the devastating health consequences of ozone pollution.”
The EPA’s proposed decision to reject the state’s 179B(b) demonstration follows an effort by the state to avoid significant Clean Air Act requirements by blaming the high concentrations of ozone pollution in the Northern Wasatch Front on international sources using dubious modeling provided by the Utah Mining Association and the Utah Petroleum Association to support its claims. Were EPA to accept Utah’s demonstration in a final decision later this year, the state would not be required to reduce the local pollution that leads to ozone formation along the Northern Wasatch Front, and Utahns would continue to be exposed to dangerous levels of ozone and its significant health consequences without any remedy in sight.
“Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment strongly support the EPA’s ruling, and we’re confident Utah residents do as well,” said Brian Moench, MD and president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “We should not forget that this was an attempt to waive the EPA’s ozone standard in Utah by blaming Asia for a significant part of our pollution. In rejecting that request, the EPA has taken the side of protecting public health and not the profits of our largest industrial polluters.”
Click here for a media fact sheet on the demonstration, its consequences under the Clean Air Act, and the impacts of ozone pollution in Utah.
Jamie Trafficanda, 720-763-3737, email@example.com