USING THE POWER OF
MOMS TO CLEAN UP
UTAH'S DIRTY AIR

Categories

Archives

Links

Democracy Swallowed – Utah Style

July 14th, 2014

By Cherise Udell

The John Swallow case shows political corruption in Utah at its finest. In essence, Swallow, as Utah Attorney General, had a “for sale” sign on his office door. Unfortunately, what Swallow did was not unique. He got caught and thoroughly exposed.

The experience of citizen advocates lobbying for clean air this past legislative session revealed that many elected officials in Utah have also been seduced by big money and power. This was demonstrated to us with daily high-fives and chummy back-slapping between many state legislators and industry lobbyists. And that was in public view — who knows what was happening behind closed doors!

Actually, we do know. These industrial lobbyists were making every effort to undermine legislation that would impact big industry’s ability to pollute. These same lobbyists — many from the law firm Parsons, Behle & Latimer — also suggest and help write pollution-friendly legislation. Yes, these pro-pollution lobbyists get paid big bucks for big results (they have to, otherwise who would want to be pro-pollution?) — and the outcome is that our democracy is compromised and our lungs suffer.

In another example, we regularly contacted lawmakers and tried to arrange meetings. Occasionally, a lawmaker would come out in front of the chambers and listen for two or three minutes before dashing back inside. Meanwhile, we watched industry lobbyists being readily escorted to the private spaces hidden behind the Senate chambers.

We knew industrial lobbyists crawled on the hill like red ants raiding a picnic, but we were shocked to see that Rio Tinto/Kennecott, Utah’s biggest polluter, alone had fourteen registered lobbyists, while medical waste incinerator Stericycle had eight. A few of these lobbyists are what some would call mercenaries, in that they lobby for multiple big polluters.

It quickly became clear that the public is no match for this army of pro-pollution lobbyists stationed full-time on the Hill. After all, how many citizens can take six weeks off work to spend all day at the Capitol during a legislative session? How many citizens have the legal background to understand, let alone write, complex bills?

How many citizens can show up to testify at committee hearings with only 24-hour notice? How many nonprofits can afford to hire a hotshot lobbyist from Parsons, Behle, & Latimer, which brags on its website, “[we] not only assist clients in complying with the law, we help shape it.”

Unfortunately, the access these paid lobbyists enjoy matters tremendously. As Sen. Dabakis lamented during a committee hearing, “The system is rigged to not have clean air.” Consequently, mandatory rules are made voluntary, enforcement measures the public wants are removed, and the government entities designed to protect our health become industry puppets.

Citizens demanding clean air fight a good battle in an unfair war.

But remember, we do have truth, justice and what is morally right on our side. We can make our own army of determined citizens — no one is stopping us. At our January Clean Air No Excuses rally an army of more than 4,000 citizens was assembled. In the end, our democracy, when vigorously utilized, does ensure that justice prevails over injustice. The recent resignation of Swallow attests to this. So does the fact that despite the system being rigged against us, numerous clean air bills did pass.

So to the Utah citizens that exercised their democratic rights this past session, Utah Moms for Clean Air thanks you. For all of those who did not, but wanted to, we encourage you to get involved.

Finally, to all of the legislators who truly looked out for the public good in spite of temptation not to, we celebrate you as heroes in the good fight for what is right.

Cherise Udell is founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air.

Summer Is Ozone Season In Utah

June 30th, 2014

This past winter we all struggled with the dirty, dirty air. Too many days, the Utah Department of Air Quality flashed RED AIR day warnings to those paying attention — and if you are like me, you were paying attention. Spring brought us much needed relief with robin-egg blue skies and warmer temperatures. But now as the mercury continues to creep upward, signaling the return of summer, ozone is the uninvited guest that you would do best not to ignore.

Ozone is a poisonous gas, the result of a chemical reaction between sunlight, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide gases (NOx). It is characterized by three molecules of oxygen and is thus highly unstable, which is why it fortunately breaks down so easily indoors, in the absence of sunlight. (Particulate matter, the scourge of our bad winter air, does not break down easily and is thus harder to escape.)

VOCs + NOx + Sunlight = Ozone

But wait, you say, isn’t ozone a good thing? Are we not worried about depleted ozone in our atmosphere? Yes, ozone up high in the sky is good (it protects the earth’s surface from ultraviolet rays), but down low it is harmful to breathe.

Breathing air heavy with ozone burns the inside of your lungs. OUCH! It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that this is not a good thing, so consider really limiting your outdoor activities and staying inside to play instead when ozone creeps into the yellow and red zones. Ice skating, indoor rock climbing, indoor swimming pools & indoor bounce houses can still get your kids’ wiggles out, but also protect their young lungs.

The Utah Department of Air Quality provides daily alerts regarding air quality (or lack thereof), so that you can take proactive steps to protect yourself and your family.

To reduce your contributions to ozone today (or any day!) and other hot summer days when ozone levels peak, Utah Moms for Clean Air asks you to consider:

* Postpone lawn mowing — unless you use a hand-pushed or electric mower — until after dark. Remember to create ozone, you need sunlight – without sunlight, ozone dips to nearly zero.

* Postpone filling-up your gas tank until after dark.

* Do not use spray paint or other paints that off-gas (they all off-gas VOC’s unless they say VOC free). If you must use them, wait again until after dark.

* Leave your car at home. Tailpipe emissions are one of the biggest contributors to ozone pollution.

* Use natural cleaning products that do not contain VOCs such as Mrs. Myers or even just the classic basics such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon. For tips on using natural cleaners — and saving $$ — check-out: Care2.com or the Guide to Green Living.

* Add green leafy plants to your house which can further reduce VOCs and ozone indoors. Cactus and Tropicals in Salt Lake City co-hosted a class with Utah Moms for Clean Air on how to purify your indoor air with plants. They are happy to help with your plant selection.

We must all do our part to reduce our contributions to air pollution and ozone is no exception. Please spread the word and encourage your friends, family and elected officials to take a proactive role in protecting the Clean Air Act, which currently is under assault by America’s big polluters.

For more information about ozone check-out this great website: Air Pollution Solutions.

The EPA has a good overview of the health impacts of ground-level ozone.

Should Clean Air Trump Patriotic Fireworks & Tradition?

May 27th, 2014

On June 3rd, the SLC Council will discuss whether or not the city should continue to fund the two major firework displays in July due to growing concerns about air quality. You can contribute to this discussion by contacting your city council member and/or attending the June 3rd hearing at City Hall. See the Fox13 news clip for more info and do take the FoxNews poll – currently 78% of respondents think the city should continue funding the fireworks. What do you think?

Clean air advocates question if baby deaths in Vernal are linked to pollution

May 7th, 2014

VERNAL — The string of brief and poignant baby obituaries from the Vernal area in 2013 is causing clean air advocates to question if pollution from oil and gas production is helping to write their fate.

The Utah Department of Health has agreed to launch a study to determine if there is an inordinate number of adverse birth outcomes in the Vernal area — beyond what would be a typical rate for a population that size.

“We want to determine whether there is an issue or not,” said health department spokesman Tom Hudachko. “It is not designed to determine cause and effect.”

Hudachko said the study is expected to take about four months and will assess the number of low-birth weight babies, infant mortality such as still births and the incidences in which babies are small for their gestational age.

“Those are the outcomes we are going to take a look at,” he said. “Most of that data we can get through birth records and conduct an analysis to determine if there are outcomes occurring at a rate that would exceed what we would expect based on our statewide average.”

Dr. Brian Moench said his group went back through the records starting in 2010 and, in the past year, found that the numbers rose to 15 deaths in a year.

“It is concerning enough that it certainly needs to be addressed with earnestness, with objectivity and with some real serious intent to find out exactly what is going on,” he said.

Given the Uintah Basin’s serious wintertime ozone pollution problems linked to oil and gas activity and the rampant increase in industry production, Moench said, he believes there is a correlation between the air pollution levels and adverse birth outcomes.

Given the Uintah Basin’s serious wintertime ozone pollution problems linked to oil and gas activity and the rampant increase in industry production, Moench said, he believes there is a correlation between the air pollution levels and adverse birth outcomes.

“It does seem very likely to be related to the explosion of the oil and gas industry and all the pollution,” he said.

Moench said still births and perinatal mortality in Vernal was six times the national average in 2013, but Hudachko cautioned that a timeframe longer than 12 months should be weighed when making any conclusions.

“We don’t want to look at one year and assume there is a pattern,” he said.

Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=29797547#eoK2vV1A1pwChMLW.99

Utah Moms for Clean Air Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Uphold EPA’s Second-Hand Smog Rule

April 29th, 2014

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule – an overdue clean air safeguard that follows the “good neighbor” principle established in the Clean Air Act to cut pollution that travels across state borders of — ie., second-hand smog.

The American Lung Association (an intervener in the case – three cheers to them!) released the following statement today:

”Millions of Americans will breathe easier, thanks to the decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court that will finally curtail ‘second-hand smog’ – ozone smog and particle pollution blown across state borders far from their sources, threatening lives and health.

The Clean Air Act directs power plants to behave like ‘good neighbors,’ and clean up their pollution that blows into neighboring states. For too long that did not happen, and states struggled to protect their citizens from dirty air blown across their borders. Life-threatening ozone and particle pollution, created by emissions from these plants, traveled far from their sources harming public health. Thanks to this decision, that will finally change.

People who live downwind of these major polluters need this decision, because the ozone and particle pollution in their communities threatens their lives. When this rule was adopted in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the pollution from these power plants caused 34,000 premature deaths each year and triggered more than 400,000 asthma attacks, as well as sent 19,000 people to the hospital or emergency department and caused 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks. The people in these 28 states needed the EPA to enforce the law and protect them from pollution.”

Utah Moms for Clean Air urges state power companies to move forward with implementing this life-saving standard immediately. While this rule applies to 28 eastern states (ie., does not include Utah) we support the protection of children across America.

Congratulations EPA, American Lung Association and Supreme Court for doing your job to protect the people of America.

Utah Democracy and Clean Air Swallowed

March 22nd, 2014

By Cherise Udell
Printed in the Salt Lake Tribune

The John Swallow case showcases political corruption in Utah at its finest. In essence, Swallow, as Utah Attorney General, had a “For Sale” sign on his office door. Unfortunately, what Swallow did was not unique – it is only that he got caught and thoroughly exposed.

The experience of clean air citizen lobbyists at the legislature this past session revealed that many elected officials in Utah have also been seduced by big money and power. This was demonstrated to us with daily high-fives and chummy back-slapping between many state legislators and industry lobbyists. And that was in public view – who knows what was happening behind closed doors!

Actually, we do know. These industrial lobbyists were making every effort to undermine legislation that would impact big industry’s ability to pollute. These same lobbyists – many from the law firm Parsons Behle & Latimer – also suggest and help write pollution-friendly legislation. Yes, these pro-pollution lobbyists get paid big bucks for big results (they have to, otherwise who would want to be pro-pollution?) – and the outcome is that our democracy is compromised and our lungs suffer.

Yes, these pro-pollution lobbyists get paid big bucks for big results (they have to, otherwise who would want to be pro-pollution?) – and the outcome is that our democracy is compromised and our lungs suffer.

In another example, we regularly contacted lawmakers and tried to arrange face-to-face meetings. Occasionally, a lawmaker would come out in front of the chambers and listen for two or three minutes before dashing back inside. Meanwhile, we watched industry lobbyists being readily escorted to the private spaces hidden behind the Senate chambers.

We knew industrial lobbyists crawled on the hill like red ants raiding a picnic, but were shocked to see that Rio Tinto/Kennecott, Utah’s biggest polluter, alone had fourteen registered lobbyists while Medical Waste Incinerator Stericycle, had ten. Tesero had four – and this list of industrial lobbyists goes on. A few of these lobbyists are what some would call mercenaries in that they lobby for multiple big polluters.

It quickly became clear that this army of pro-pollution lobbyists stationed full-time on the Hill is no match for the public. After all, how many citizens can take six weeks off work to spend all day at the Capitol during a legislative session? How many citizens have the legal background to understand let alone write complex bills? How many citizens can show up to testify at committee hearings with only 24-hour notice? How many non-profits can afford to hire a hotshot lobbyist from Parsons Behle & Latimer, who brag on their website, “ [we] not only assist clients in complying with the law, we help shape it.”

Unfortunately, the access these paid lobbyists enjoy matters tremendously. As Sen. Dabakis lamented during a committee hearing, “The system is rigged to not have clean air.” Consequently, mandatory rules are made voluntary, enforcement measures the public wants are removed, and the government entities designed to protect our health become industry puppets.

Citizens demanding clean air truly fight a good battle in an unfair war.

But remember, we do have truth, justice and what is morally right on our side. We can make our own army of determined citizens – no one is stopping us. In the end, our democracy, when vigorously utilized, does ensure that justice prevails over injustice. The recent resignation of John Swallow attests to this. So does the fact that despite the system being rigged against us, numerous clean air bills did pass.

So, to the Utah citizens that exercised their democratic rights this past session, Utah Moms for Clean Air thanks you. For all of those who did not, but wanted to, we encourage you to get involved – your voice is truly needed.

Last, but not least, to all of the Senators and Representatives who truly looked out for the public good in spite of temptation not to, we celebrate you as heroes in the good fight for what is right.

Hardship Pay for Living in China’s Lung-Deep Pollution. Is Utah next?

March 14th, 2014

By Ari Phillips
First published with ThinkProgress.org
March 13, 2014

Hardship pay has taken on new meaning for foreign workers in China. On Thursday, Japanese-based Panasonic became the first international company to openly state that it will pay employees in China a wage premium to compensate the hazardous air pollution levels there.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard any company be quite so brazen about it,” Robert Parkinson, head of Beijing-based recruiter RMG Selection, told the Financial Times. “It’s a bit like saying we know we are exposing you to something that could be life-threatening. We’re going to admit it and compensate you for it.”

The move came during Japan’s annual labor talks, which otherwise focused on preventing an economic slowdown and boosting workers’ wages. A Panasonic document from the labor talks reads “as for the premium for expatriates to compensate for a different living environment, the company will have a special review for those sent to Chinese cities.”

Throughout the winter, Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai have been suffering severe pollution bouts unheard of in most other cities — causing flight delays, school closings and widespread public concern. The government has been making large strides to try and assuage the worries of both Chinese citizens and foreign workers — including top executives and other senior staff — that they are doing all they can to clear the air and make the atmosphere more inviting.

“We will declare war on pollution and fight it with the same determination we battled poverty,” China’s premier Li Keqiang said at the opening of China’s Parliament last week in an occasion similar to the annual State of the Union speech in the U.S.

Even before China declared a war on pollution, Panasonic generally paid employees posted in China a premium for working in a “hardship posting,” which was not uncommon for other companies to do as well. However, announcing remuneration specifically for polluted air sets a new precedent for multinational companies operating in China.

“This puts huge pressure on other multinationals to follow suit,” Professor Kamel Mellahi from the Warwick Business School in the U.K. told the International Business Times. “Given the high status of Panasonic in China, one expects other multinationals to start introducing something similar.”

With pollution monitors in Beijing hitting PM 2.5 readings 10 to 15 times the maximum recommended allowance by the World Health Organization, apprehension over working in China is not surprising. PM 2.5 particles are particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and they can penetrate the lungs and cause premature death. PM 2.5 particles come from vehicle emissions and other operations that involve burning fossil fuels, such as coal-fired power plants and heavy industry that ring many large Chinese cities as they’ve rapidly industrialized.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard any company be quite so brazen about it,” Robert Parkinson, head of Beijing-based recruiter RMG Selection, told the Financial Times. “It’s a bit like saying we know we are exposing you to something that could be life-threatening. We’re going to admit it and compensate you for it.”

If Utah does not aggressively deal with it’s own air pollution problem, local companies may have to offer hardship pay to get the best workers to agree to live here.

The Haze Is Lifting in Utah, But Not The Hazy Ideas About Pollution

February 26th, 2014

By Dr. Brian Moench
President of Utah Physicians for A Healthy Environment

It’s easy for an alcoholic to commit to abstinence after he’s been in a car accident. It’s also easy to abandon that commitment once the accident is only seen receding in the rear view mirror of his mind.

So it is with air pollution. The best time to get citizens and the Legislature to commit to long term policy changes is when the consequences of inaction are staring them in the face, specifically the eyes, nose and throat part of the face — “pollution inebriation” if you will. Nothing focuses the mind quite like the inability to breathe.

Obviously, our pollution will return. Maintaining focus and commitment while the air is clean is the key to mitigating the next round of pollution inebriation, and the next, and the next. Knowing the truth and the full extent of the problem and its consequences is critical to crafting solutions.

The consequences of not knowing the truth is currently on full display in West Virginia and North Carolina, where more than 300,000 people have had their water polluted by chemical spills and coal ash tailings ponds. Assurances from their state agencies and the companies involved that everything’s fine is little comfort to people who are still passing out and throwing up from drinking the water and smelling it when they shower. Skepticism about the safety of their water is universal.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) has been similarly skeptical about claims made about our air pollution. The public has been spoon-fed information from several state agencies and industry that has been misleading and confusing, with inadequate scrutiny from the media.

It’s time to pull back the curtain on what’s really going on in the air over Smog Lake City.

We have collected comments from multiple government agencies, UCAIR, a recent KUED documentary and industry, and have found a remarkable potpourri of misinformation, some of which may be an innocent lack of understanding on the part of the perpetrators, but some of which is either clearly agenda driven or willful ignorance. Below is our list of top 12 air pollution “whoppers.”

1. “Yellow alert” pollution is “unhealthy [only] for sensitive groups.”

2. “Poor air quality is not expected to increase the risk of birth defects or other poor pregnancy outcomes … and is not expected to increase the risk of developmental delays or autism.”

3. Industry is responsible for only 11 percent of our air pollution.

4. Our air quality is good 95 percent of the time, winter inversions are our only problem.

5. Once the inversion breaks, the health consequences are over.

6. Burning wood on a “green burn” has no health consequence.

7. If you have no symptoms from pollution, then you are not affected.

8. Historically Wasatch Front air pollution has always been bad and a natural phenomenon, so we can be less concerned.

9. The state is doing everything it can to clean up our air.

10. Once it lands on the ground, air pollution just becomes fertilizer.

11. Large smoke stack industries are monitored 24 hours a day.

12. DAQ permitting guarantees no net increase in emissions from large sources.

Each of these claims deserves a thorough deconstruction, far beyond the word limit of a newspaper op-ed. UPHE have compiled a report, “Smoke and Mirrors: Fact vs. Fiction About Utah’s Air Pollution,” that addresses these issues which we will present at a public forum at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Salt Lake City Main Library auditorium.

Utah citizens deserve the full story on our air pollution, then they can judge for themselves whether they are being patronized, much like the water pollution victims in West Virginia and North Carolina.

Brian Moench is a Salt Lake City physician and founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Next Page » male depression ssri viagra libido? Viagra Buy snorting viagra health

 

 

 

Contact


Recent Posts

Meta