Report: Overall Utah environment improving

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An inversion intensifies on the Wasatch Front as we wait for wind to clean out the air. Despite the smog today, a new report from the Department of Environmental Quality shows improvement in the environment for 2008.

It's a yellow-air alert today, but there are improvements in the forecast and signs that the overall environment in Utah will measure up to new, tougher standards.

Public awareness is growing, too. Bill Sinclair, acting executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, says, "We see a lot more activity in terms of interest, and individuals and groups that have formed."

Report: Overall Utah environment improving

The DEQ's annual report shows improvement in four main areas: air, climate change, land and water.

In 2008, air quality was better than 2007, despite tougher rules and a growing population. Cleaner technology for buses helped set an example. "We've been able to get some money to retrofit our school buses, so they'll have less emissions," Sinclair said. "That will help our children's health."

But, our most populated counties must continue to improve, and the state has until 2012 to show the Environmental Protection Agency how it will comply.

There's more good news for our environment; the quality of the Great Salt Lake will continue to get a much closer look. "We've been kind of not paying much attention to it," Sinclair said. "We've had a lot of agencies that deal with it that haven't been communicating with one another. We're going to try to fix that."

Report: Overall Utah environment improving

Water quality across the state, is pretty good according to the report, in spite of scattered issues with mercury in the water and fish populations.

On land, contaminated site clean-ups are progressing. The old Geneva Steel mill property is undergoing transformation from blighted land to redevelopment.

The state also set new benchmarks to cut greenhouse gases to combat global warming.


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Jed Boal


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