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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah regulators want to get more aggressive in cutting smog-producing pollutants across the state.
The Utah Division of Air Quality is proposing new requirements for underground fuel storage tanks to help cut down on vapors that escape and contribute to smog.
The steps have been used for years along the Wasatch Front but officials say more is needed.
"The time has come to extend it to the rest of the state," says Cheryl Heying, director of the air quality division.
Part of the reason is that new Environmental Protection Agency limits on ozone pollution will be difficult for the state to meet. State officials say at least six counties need to find additional ways to reduce smog-producing pollution.
One way is to reduce the vapors that mix with other chemicals in the air that, once mixed with sunlight, become the smog that impairs the view and makes it more unhealthy to breathe.
The state wants to attach "vapor recovery" equipment on underground fuel tanks at up to 560 gas stations across the state and possibly onto delivery trucks. The cost would be around $676,000.
The Utah Petroleum Association and the Utah Petroleum Marketers and Retailers Association have approved the change.
John Hill, executive director of the group of marketers and retailers that represents about 110 gas station owners and distributors, says the group has asked state officials to look at Utah's underground storage tank fund as a possible source for low-interest loans to help foot the bill.
Robert Clark, a state environmental scientist, said there could be another benefit from the measure: captured vapors can be turned back into usable fuel -- up to 15 gallons per tanker.
"We're just capturing (the vapors) rather than letting them go into the air," he said. "It's just a win-win."
State officials plan a series of public meetings on proposals this month in Salt Lake City, St. George, Nephi, North Logan, Duchesne, Moab and Richfield.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)