We’ve been caught up in the euphoria generated by Mike Gorrell’s article in the Tribune, suggesting that visitors to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market could help preserve our precious Wasatch Canyons and Mountains. The scheme involved a local outfit calling itself My Convention Housing, which would help fill the housing needs of participants at the Summer Market by using surplus space in University of Utah residence halls and also finding another few thousand beds in private homes and apartments conveniently located. Proceeds and profits from this enterprise would be devoted to buying up privately held acres in the Wasatch Canyons and Mountains. These lands would be deeded over to the Forest Service, Oh, my! That’s an exciting idea!
Meanwhile, back to reality, following a few precious days of relatively clean air, the populated areas of the Wasatch Front are once again socked in with atmospheric inversions, trapping the life- and health-threatening particulate pollution known as PM2.5.
This pollution is a wintertime fact of life on the Wasatch Front, and will continue to be until we do something about it. Utah’s Physicians and Moms and many others have long clamored for action by the governor and the legislature. In response, Governor Gary Herbert keeps insisting on voluntary actions, such as reductions in daily automobile use. Leaders of the Legislature are unwilling to consider actions stronger than those imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Bills from Utah’s minority party attempting to address the issue of unhealthy air will not, of course, gain any traction in this year’s legislature.
So here we sit, resting on our status quo, paying the penalties in medical bills and reduced quality of life. The state’s red-air alerts tell us when the air is unhealthy, but they don’t change our collective contributions to the pollution. We simply wait for a change in the weather to blow the pollution out of our valleys.
We appear to have two action-alternatives: to depart for healthier habitat, or to campaign for leaders who will help us to clean up the air on the Wasatch Front.
What’s your choice?