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Utah regulators issue plan to fight air pollution

Utah regulators issue plan to fight air pollution

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Watchdog groups say regulators could lean more heavily on industry to fight air pollution in urban areas of northern Utah.

The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah said it was scrutinizing a plan for mandatory emissions cuts in everything from consumer goods to industrial stacks.

"We think there are deeper emission cuts they could have found," said Matt Pacenza, policy director for HEAL Utah. He said regulators only recently began seeking across-the-board, mandatory cuts in industrial emissions and didn't go as far as they could have.

The Utah Air Quality Board is almost certain to adopt the plan for the greater Salt Lake area after a public comment period ends in a month. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have the final say.

The plan requires wider use of off-the-shelf technology to control industrial emissions, but stops at requiring the most advanced controls.

Added emissions controls already are a requirement of industries that are expanding or upgrading equipment. Under the new rules, it would become an immediate mandate for any source of 100 tons or more of emissions a year. That includes oil refineries, Hill Air Force Base and companies such as Kennecott Utah Copper Corp. and Nucor Steel.

Other rules ban the sale of aerosols like hair spray with high concentrations of hydrocarbons and require emissions controls for hamburger grills and auto-body shops.

On paper, regulators say they have achieved their desired emissions reductions. Yet the effort was helped by mathematical recalculations. Regulators shortened a time cycle in computer models that knocked out some bad pollution years. Clean-air advocates say Utah can rightly claim this credit - but that it could work against the state if air pollution turns worse in the near future.

Utah's goal also was helped by lowering a growth rate on cars and buildings in the Salt Lake area.

What's more, regulators assumed tailpipe emissions will lessen as people replace old cars with new models. And they hope the EPA mandates cleaner-burning gasoline, which they say would do more than anything to clean Utah's air.

All this factors into Utah's plan to meet federal air quality standards.

The cost of new regulations to Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co.'s Salt Lake City refinery will be in the millions of dollars, said Karma Thomson, Tesoro's top executive in Utah, who sits on the Utah Air Quality Board.

Thomson said all five of Utah's oil refineries are willing to make the change if the rules are enforced evenly. The refineries are grouped on a row extending north of Salt Lake City, now largely surrounded by new housing development. Refining started there a century ago.

"From our industry perspective, we all have to do our share," Thomson said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 9/13/2013 4:46:50 PM (GMT -6:00)


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