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.”
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.