Working for Effective Utah Plan to meet Clean Air Standards

Joro-Walker“Utah’s recent plan to clean up air pollution did not go far enough to protect public health and did not achieve protections as quickly as possible. We are advocating for a better plan – Utahns deserve nothing less.”

– Joro Walker, Attorney and Utah Office Director

Utah is Required to Develop a Plan to Address Air Pollution

Under the Clean Air Act, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes national air quality standards and requires states with areas that are not attaining the standards to develop plans to clean their air and meet the standards. These plans are known as State Implementation Plans.

Utah’s local air quality management agency is required to develop the State Implementation Plan with input from the public and then submit the plan to EPA for approval. The Plan must show that the State has required the emission reductions necessary to bring the area into attainment with the standards as expeditiously as possible using the best available measures.

Western Resource Advocates Is Calling on Utah to Address All Significant Sources of Air Pollution As Quickly As Possible

Western Resource Advocates is working to ensure Utah’s Plan covers all the significant air pollution sources and has adequate air pollution reduction requirements that will result in cleaner air. We are also working to ensure this process goes as quickly as possible. We are working with health and other experts to analyze draft plans, propose more effective measures to the State, and advocate for strong action. WRA attorneys are submitting legal comments, meeting with state and federal air quality staff, educating elected officials who oversee the process, engaging the media to keep them abreast of this important issue, conducting public education and outreach, and coordinating with other public interest groups.

Initial Successes in Getting Utah’s Air Pollution Plan Strengthened Occurred in December 2014 – but Not Enough!

In December 2014, the State released a so-called “moderate” State Implementation Plan.The “moderate” December 2014 Plan includes stricter controls on large polluting industries and requires that pollution reductions must be implemented sooner that the state originally proposed.

  • The December 2014 Plan contains limits on pollution from a broader spectrum of industrial air pollution sources than originally proposed.
  • The December 2014 Plan no longer contains exceptions that would have allowed industrial sources to exceed their air pollution permit limits during periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction.
  • The Division of Air Quality adopted an improved rule that requires rigorous control of fugitive dust and fugitive emissions – emissions of fine particles that health studies show are particularly harmful to the public health.

However, this ”moderate” December 2014 Plan is not adequate! The plan did not go far enough to protect public health and did not achieve protections as quickly as possible.

Western Resource Advocates Calling for Vast Improvements in Next Plan

Now, the State is being required by EPA to submit a “serious” State Implementation Plan. We plan to advocate to vastly improve the December 2014 Plan to achieve public health protections more quickly.

  • Working with our partners HEAL Utah and Utah Physicians for Environmental Health, we drafted specific changes to the last Plan that would have strengthened the requirements to reduce pollution from large industrial sources. Industrial operations contribute significant air pollution to the Wasatch Front. We proposed three new rules in October 2015 to address this industrial pollution but in February 2016 the Utah Air Quality Board voted to not put the rules out for public comment. This was a disservice to Utah.
  • We will continue public education and media briefings to help bring sunlight to the State Implementation Plan process. We will help our partners, the public, elected officials and the media understand what the Clean Air Act demands from the State Implementation Plan and where Utah’s draft Plan falls short of those legal requirements.

Project Staff

Rob Dubuc

Rob Dubuc

Staff Attorney, Utah Office

jor walker

Joro Walker

General Counsel