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In our opinion: Utah leaders get serious about cleaning the air

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  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 1:15 a.m.

    Anybody besides me remember the late Sam Taylor? Among other positions he served on the Utah PSC. He advocated for UTA providing free transportation. In his view mass transit would never meet its potential without it. It deserves another look. TRAX is the workhorse core of UTA, but the rest of the system leaves a whole lot to be desired. I stay off of UTA because of the lousy bus connections out of South Davis. Dense mass transit is a key.

  • Makid Kearns, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    With approximately $50 Million extra a year, UTA would be able to lower fares by 50% immediately, that would put it at $1.25. As ridership increases, fares would be reduced further. If ridership increases just 50%, fares would be able to be reduced to $1.00.

    Even at this level, frequency would be able to be increased on the busiest transit lines which would further increase ridership.

    Currently we are averaging approximately 60,000 daily riders on Trax and approximately 70,000 daily riders via bus.

    If either the state provided assistance or allowed the Counties which UTA serves to increase the transit sales tax with the requirement that a given percentage must go to reducing and keeping fares at between $1.00 to $1.25 and another percentage must go to increased frequency along the busiest lines. The rest would be used to add BRT, LRT and Streetcars to the district as ridership dictates.

    With just the fare reduction ridership would be close to or exceed 100,000 daily riders for both Trax and bus. With increases in frequency, expansion and fare reduction, I think we would be able to get closer to 150,000 daily riders per method each.

    Now imagine that congestion relief on the air.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    We also need to give incentives to those who drive more fuel efficient vehicles. Interestingly, in the last few years the incentive to drive natural gas (less polluting) cars has been decreased since Huntsman left office. Governor Herbert and the Legislature do have options.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Dec. 27, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    None of these sensible ideas will find any traction at all in our reactionary legislature, which believes that it's all fog and "there ain't no pollution." Why do we keep electing these rubes?

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    *'EPA inventory shows Utah's sources of greenhouse gas' - By Amy Joi O'Donoghue - 02/05/13 - Published by the Deseret News

    'WASHINGTON — The nation's power plants continue to be the single largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new information released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.'
    (sic)
    In Utah, 14 power plants are responsible for 75 percent of the state's direct greenhouse gas emissions, releasing 33 million metric tons. '

    And yet…

    *'Study says coal burning in Utah kills 202 a year' - AP - Published by DSNews – 10/19/10
    *Studies link air pollution to increased risk of strokes and dementia’ – by Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret news – 02/15/12

    Let me be clear:

    Utah leadership promotes industry and job creation….

    at the EXPENSE of the lives and well-being of it's actual citizens.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    So long as Utahns continue to view and paint anyone "Enviromentally Friendly" as vile, evil, teeth nashing, Tree-Hugging, anarchists, bend on dragging their very souls down to Hades...
    This ain't going anywhere.

    BTW - It's a Utah cultural thing, and not a Mormon Doctrine thing.
    My LDS Leaders and Scrptures tell us to BE enviromentally friendly.

    Yet, my kids and I have even been called foul names at church for merely suggesting recycling.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    Breathing smoke from burning cars,
    Breathing smoke from burning cigarettes.

    One is considered good,
    One is considered bad.
    ?

    That does NOT compute!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    Davis County is often the leader in air pollution. UTA could help out in Davis by making more Frontrunner stops so we can hop on the danged thing. The Bamberger Railroad made more than twice the number of stops and still managed an overall transit time of one hour from SLC to Ogden. But then Bamberger was straight electric (in a drag race today between Bamberger and Frontrunner, the latter would be left in the dust). Let it be stated once and for all, diesel locomotive technology is a poor match to the Davis commuter situation. Nevertheless UTA should consider adding at least a couple of stops.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    This is quite a difficult problem to address. Midday Christmas we had a 24hr average PM2.5 concentration of 6ug/m3. Right now (as of 11am around 46 hours later) we're at 29.8ug/m3 (Utah Division of Air Quality trend chart for Salt Lake). The air quality standard we're trying not to cross is 35.4 and in a mere two days we've gone from average non-inversion type values to it multiplying by 5 and getting somewhat close to that standard.

    The pictures on U of U professor Jim Steenburgh's "Wasatch Weather Weenies" blog post today pretty clearly (pun intended) show how fast we can get in this hole.

  • innocent bystander SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    Still not a word about industry, expanding refineries, mining, coal-fired plants, open burning of medical waste by Stericycle?

    People suffer while corporations expand dirty energy etc. as fast as they can, while filling up Governor and legislature's campaign accounts. Crony capitalism thrives and we think the pollution problem is finally being addressed!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    Re: Innocent bystander You are right - the air quality situation is multi-faceted. And South Davis is the center.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 3:26 p.m.

    It takes me fifteen minutes to drive to work. And 2 1/2-3 hours by UTA. Also buses are not reliable, too many times they do not show up, and the routes are constantly changing. Until this is fixed, I cannot risk my job with unreliable transportation.

  • bricha lehi, ut
    Dec. 27, 2013 3:41 p.m.

    marxist and Makid,

    Couldn't agree more, drives me nuts when I was researching how much mass transit would cost me, and the total ended up being MORE than I pay in gas and insurance every month. So the only savings come from repairs to the car assuming I were to never use it. I am all for mass transit, even when it is a little inconvenient, but the $198 price tag is pretty steep.

  • Willie deG CALGARY, 00
    Dec. 27, 2013 8:13 p.m.

    Why don't the coal fired power plants have pollution reduction devices in place that are effective in reducing the greenhouse gasses. I lived in Salt Lake County in 1996 and again 2001 and there was a big difference in the pollution levels back then, but nobody did anything. Why didn't they follow California's lead back then. Well good luck, you'll need it.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 8:57 p.m.

    I hate to break it to you but... "Utah leaders" can't clean our air. Only WE can clean our air.

    Government can make busses and trains cheaper but if we don't ride them... what difference does it make. Busses burn fossil fuels, Front Runner burns diesel, and TRAX operates on electricity generated by burning coal. So just running more busses, trains, etc, even when they are empty doesn't necessarily fix the problem.

    We have to stop driving (preferably because we value the air we breath, not just because the government forces us to).

    The government can nudge us in the right direction, but until people are willing to change... the government can do all they want but nothing's going to actually change (because we keep driving our cars).

    The government can shutdown every factory, but if that just gives more unemployed people more time to drive around town... it won't fix anything.

    We need to carpool, etc (because we want clean air, not because we fear the government or are forced to comply).

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 9:04 p.m.

    Salt Lake City is up to 37.9ug/m3 for the 24hr average PM2.5 so we're back in violation of the national air quality standards a mere two days after an inversion free day.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 27, 2013 10:34 p.m.

    'I hate to break it to you but... "Utah leaders" can't clean our air. Only WE can clean our air.'

    So why do we pay them $175,000 per year?

    Emission caps, industry caps, if we followed the example from California, we could have had this solved.

    But again, Utah's leadership gets paid $175,000 a year….

    to do nothing.

  • Swiss Price, Utah
    Dec. 28, 2013 6:52 a.m.

    Pagan I am glad you got on target in your second post. Only the people on the Wasatch Front can clean the air on the there. Schmee points out what happened on Christmas Day. Does that not indicate that wood burning even on Christmas Eve and Day must stop. Anyone who still use wood or coal for heating must have their systems updated. Now our friend from Calgary and your thinly veiled attempt to blame the air pollution on the Wasatch Front on all the coal plants in Utah must be challenged. Name the coal plants on that contribute to your air pollution. The coal plants in Carbon and Emery County can't because if you had winds from the east the pollution would also be dispersed. Three of the four plants also have the latest pollution controls.
    Next name the industries that need to have there emissions capped. While we are at it find the natural gas electric generation facilities by sight or sound. I couldn't even after I looked them up.
    Finally, and not least, consider moving to Milford. They have a geothermal and wind powered electricity. They have broken ground on their solar plant.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 28, 2013 9:19 a.m.

    'Now our friend from Calgary and your thinly veiled attempt to blame the air pollution on the Wasatch Front on all the coal plants in Utah must be challenged.'

    I'm sorry.

    Did I 'make this up'…?

    *'Study says coal burning in Utah kills 202 a year' - AP - Published by DSNews – 10/19/10

    *'EPA inventory shows Utah's sources of greenhouse gas' - By Amy Joi O'Donoghue - 02/05/13 - Published by the Deseret News

    'WASHINGTON — The nation's power plants continue to be the single largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new information released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.'
    (sic)
    In Utah, 14 power plants are responsible for 75 percent of the state's direct greenhouse gas emissions, releasing 33 million metric tons. '

    Since I posted date, author, title and source…?

    If you are able to post on the Deserert news, you should be able to do a freshmen level, google search.

    I think you are confusing 'facts' with 'opinion'.

    It is not my 'opinion' that Utah's air quality factually causes health problems and death.

    It is a reality.

    *'Lung Association slams Utah areas for bad air' - By Amy Joi O'Donoghue - DSNews - 04/30/09

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 28, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    If you can't see what we need to do to clean up our air, maybe you'll have to breathe it.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    Dec. 28, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    Wow

    A "serious" plan that doesn't involve heavy restrictions and punishments on big industry?

    That's like the USA going to war against Canada in response to Pearl Harbor.

    If we ever hope to get to the root of the problems here in this state then we need to address what big industry is doing. We can keep beating around the bush and attack citizens' idling and BBQing. But ignoring the clouds of smoke emitting from those huge smoke stacks is just embarrassing.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 28, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    There are a number of common-sense steps that COULD be taken at relatively low cost to lower pollution on the Wasatch front.

    Among them: put public schools on a 4 day week (with longer days at school). (Ever notice how much fewer cars are on the road when the schools are out, but the rest of us work?)

    put all public employees on a 4 day work week. If it was done correctly, I believe it could be done, while also keeping public offices open 5 days per week.

    Mandatorily, stagger work arrival times for employees based possibly on the beginning letter of the business name. For example employees, in businesses A-M would need to start business at 7 (rather than 8)then "flip" the arrival times for the second half of the year.
    There are a multitude of possible "arrival" scenarios that might be explored in order to eliminate the gridlock between 7 and 8 every morning!

    I'm ALL IN for better mass transit (I ride bus/trax 3-5x per week)BUT I would like to see any increased revenue go to actual transit, rather than the bosses' 6 figure salaries.

    ALL of these things would require action on the part of the legislature.

  • Swiss Price, Utah
    Dec. 28, 2013 11:47 p.m.

    Pagan I named four power plants that do not emit into your air. How many of the other 14 coal plants in Utah don't. I hope you will focus in on the plants that are emitting to your air and those that aren't.
    The Wasatch Front is in Utah, it is not Utah. You must also reduce the green house emissions by a the appropriate amount.
    Then we can discuss whether all green house emissions are polluting your air.
    The lung association quote is good but you must notice that it applies to Utah areas not to Utah as a whole.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    Dec. 29, 2013 3:10 a.m.

    Before you slam Utah coal and Utah power plants, maybe you should come to Emery County and see for yourself. We have blue skies and clean air and we generate most of Utah's electricity. The power plants here have just spent millions to be even cleaner. Just thought you should know.
    And by the way, our president has ruled that these same plants should be out of business by the year 2040 so get ready for the future, whatever it may be.

  • Swiss Price, Utah
    Dec. 29, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    The Uintah County power plant does not emit into your air. IPP in Delta can probably prove that very little of their emissions get to your inversion. The emissions from the gypsum plants in Sevier County would have a hard time getting out of their inversion to contribute to your inversion.
    So once again I posit that your increase over Christmas could be due to all the wood fires from homes. Did it smell like Yule logs?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    @high school fan
    Your power plants still pollute, but since there's a wide open space for dirty air to escape to the east, it doesn't build up like it does to the west of the Wasatch.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    Dec. 30, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    God can not dwell in impure places...

    Numbers35:33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are...

    Mormon8:31 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great POLLUTIONS upon the face of the earth;...and there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.

    D&C101:97 Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name;

    D&C103:14 Nevertheless, if they pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down; for I will not spare them if they pollute their inheritances.

    D&C88:124 …cease to be unclean;

    Zephaniah3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

    D&C109:20 And that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it;

    Alma40:26 But behold, an awful death cometh...for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God.

    It applies physically as well as spiritually.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    Dec. 30, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    But our power plants pollute very little in the grand scheme. Besides this article was not about our solutions and our speculations but was about the fact that two premiere universities were going to actually try and come up with the truth about the stuff in the air and if it actually can be fixed.
    Stop the blame game for a minute and let the answers come forth and then we all can take appropriate responses. Right now we actually know very little as to cause and solutions.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    Dec. 30, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    high school fan
    Huntington, UT

    Stop focusing myopically and solely on the power plants.

    It's powerplants,
    vehicles,
    Industrial waste,

    BTW --
    The pollution in the Salt Lake Valley needs to be addressed as a POLLUTION issue,
    this artcle was not even about Global Warming.

    We know EXACTLY what he causes for the pollution are,
    so finding the solution is precisely what needs to be hammered out.