SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple groups are urging stricter controls be implemented at two aging power plants in Utah so a regional haze pollution plan is more effective.
Groups such as HEAL Utah, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club submitted comments in time for a deadline earlier this week set by the Utah Division of Air Quality.
The regional haze plan is designed to improve visibility, especially as it relates to scenic vistas at national parks and monuments in the state.
Two years ago, the EPA approved the majority of Utah's plan to address the pollution, but took exception to determinations regarding nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter emissions from the Hunter and Huntington power plants operated by Rocky Mountain Power.
The division has since revised the plan, which went out for public comment and is now up for adoption by the Utah Air Quality Board at its February meeting.
Environmental groups want the state to require Rocky Mountain Power to make further reductions in haze-causing pollutants.
“Pollution from coal power plants endangers not just our views, but our families and our economy,” says Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah. “Utah’s officials need to require the best possible safeguards on these polluters and not let them off the hook.”
The latest regional haze plan put forth by the state doesn't require Rocky Mountain Power to do its fair share in helping to clean up our air.
Amy Hojnowski, senior campaign representative of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said groups want the Air Quality Board to reject the plan and send it back to the division for more revisions.
“The latest regional haze plan put forth by the state doesn't require Rocky Mountain Power to do its fair share in helping to clean up our air,” she said.
But Colleen Delaney, an environmental scientist with the division, has said the plan, adopted and implemented years ahead of schedule, has resulted in significant reductions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and mercury.
Actual sulfur dioxide emissions decreased by 55 percent between 2003 and 2012 in the three state region, according to the plan, which notes that 2012 emissions were significantly below targets set for 2018.
Regional haze results from small particles in the atmosphere that impair a viewer’s ability to see long distances, color, and geologic formations.
In 1999, the federal government announced a major effort to make improvements to air quality in national parks, monuments and wilderness areas, ordering reductions to protect visibility in 156 federal areas.