EDITORIAL – It’s Too Bad The Inversion Cleared Out

SLC pollution

Yes, you read the title correctly. It’s too bad the inversion and air pollution that has choked most of Northern Utah for the past month has finally cleared out – the day before the Utah Legislative Session begins.

Utah’s brief 45-day legislative session leaves room for only the most pressing of issues (in the minds of legislators) to see the light of day and become law. But while the smog and pollution reaches horrendous levels in Northern Utah almost every year, it is typically gone by the end of January when the Legislature meets, when lawmakers may be forced to finally address the issue, and memories of the “chewable air” seems to fade away quickly. With the storm that blew through Saturday night and cleared the air, this year, it seems, will be no exception.

During the 2012 legislative session, lawmakers on Utah’s Capitol Hill addressed the issue of air quality for the first time – after an effort spearhead by Representative Patrice Arent (D, Millcreek) led to the creation of a 2-year task force that will review public and private sector efforts to improve air quality and suggest changes to improve air quality. It’s a start, but several legislators who were supportive of the measure were heard around the Hill muttering about how much further the bill could have gone if only the smog had stuck around during the session.

During the months of December and January, Utah frequently holds the dubious honor of being ranked the #1 Worst Air in the Country, and the 2012-2013 winter season was worse than most. The pollution got so thick this past month that a group of 60 doctors, party of the organization Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, delivered a petition to Governor Herbert requesting he declare a public health emergency.

“[W]e know from thousands of medical studies that people are dying in our community right now because of the air pollution and its role in triggering strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, fatal arrhythmias, lung diseases and infections and infant mortality.”
(emphasis ours)

Some Utah lawmakers are still hoping to address air quality this year (Representative Joel Briscoe tells us he has a bill coming), but with clear skies over the Utah Capitol, it’s unlikely anything will come of it. It’s really too bad the “chewable air” didn’t stick around another few weeks, we might have finally seen some action taken.

On the plus side… at least we can breathe again.

2 Replies to “EDITORIAL – It’s Too Bad The Inversion Cleared Out

  1. As soon as I heard the bad air was clearing out, I thought the very same thing. If it’s not hurting us right now, and it’s not hurting us personally, we won’t do anything about it. I have been in utah about 7 years now, and was shocked on my first exposure to the pollution here. I was incredulous when I spoke to people about it and the response I got was, “Oh, that’s the inversion.” It is a handy moniker to hang on what we do to our air, because it seems to absolve us of taking responsibility. When you listen to the local weather report, they call it inversion instead of pollution. The inversion is not the pollution, just the phenomenon that shows us what we have been pouring into our air. How bad does it have to get before we take action?

  2. Why is it not a law to enforce wood burning stoves and fire places to be required to have inserts. The inserts make a cleaner burn? I know because I have one. Also why is it legal to let people and farmers burn heavily? I have allergies and breathing difficulties because of this behavior.

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