Summit seeks to keep air quality
Sep 21, 2012
ST. GEORGE — Anyone who has visited the Wasatch Front recently has seen a curtain of haze covering the valleys, thick enough to obscure the view of nearby mountains.
A variety of industry professionals, state officials and local residents gathered for the third annual Southern Utah Air Quality Summit on Friday to discuss how to keep Washington County’s pollution levels from following suit as the population increases.
“How great it is to be in Southern Utah and not have that become a political issue at this point,” said Washington City Councilman Jeff Turek, referring to air quality concerns discussed in last week’s Salt Lake County mayoral debate.
Friday’s summit addressed the health consequences of particulate matter and ozone in the air. Speakers also told of measures the state and transportation industries are taking to reduce vehicle emissions.
Turek noted that Washington City opened a compressed natural gas fueling station last year and has converted 30 of the city fleet’s 100 vehicles to CNG. The fueling station is available for the public to use, he said.
There are also four CNG stations available to the public in St. George.
“Hopefully we can convert more of our citizenry to clean-burning gas,” Turek said.
The cost of converting a private vehicle is estimated at about $8,000. Turek said the city has planned to spend about $300,000 for the station and vehicle conversion after receiving a federal grant to assist its efforts.
“We hesitated a little bit as we looked at those costs,” he said. “(But) yearly, we have taken out about 84,000 pounds of (carbon dioxide) that would be produced by petroleum and diesel fuels. That turns out to be pretty significant where our little community’s involved.”
Steve MacFarlane, one of the audience members attending the morning conference, said he is in the process of starting a business to promote the use of CNG and educate the public about its use. He recently completed a licensing course at Dixie State College to become a CNG systems inspector.
“That’s the reason I came here today – to meet people with similar interests,” he said.
MacFarlane said he has converted his vehicles to the alternative fuel and questioned why CNG stations don’t advertise their prices.
“If you were driving down the street and saw a sign advertising $1.49 for fuel, I’d think you’d want to find out more about it,” MacFarlane said. “One of the greatest promotional tools, we don’t use.”
Regarding air quality, Steven Packham, a toxicologist with the state’s Division of Air Quality, said ozone and microscopic pollutants known as PM-2.5 raise health concerns, but they already exist in nature at levels that are physically tolerated by most people.
“The real challenge becomes for all of us to not overload that system,” he said, comparing ozone and PM-2.5’s harmful effects at high levels to the harmful effects of too much sun exposure.
Dave McNeill, a planning branch manager with the DAQ, said Southern Utah’s weather system brings the materials that form ozone across the desert from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. When it reaches Washington County, it combines with volatile compounds produced by local vegetation and begins to “cook” while it is carried farther by the wind, he said.
McNeill said the DAQ placed an air quality monitoring station in Hurricane in July after determining the ozone levels there were the highest in the county.
The station collects data on ozone, nitrous oxide, PM-2.5, wind direction and solar radiation that are published in real time on the division’s website.
The PM-2.5 is mostly indicative of pollutants from vehicle emissions.
While Washington County doesn’t have the level of traffic emission problems and the winter temperature inversions observed on the Wasatch Front, traffic levels in Southern Utah are expected to continue increasing during the coming years -- in large part because of the area’s clear skies and the beauty of its environment, ironically.
“We need to be driving less, and that doesn’t just mean leave your car at home. … we can drive smarter,” said Erin Mendenhall, outreach coordinator of nonprofit Breathe Utah.
“The bottom line is, we’re all contributing to air pollution and we’re doing it in many ways,” she said.
Copyright © 2012
Utah Air Quality Summit 2012 convenes in Washington
St. George News
September 21, 2012
WASHINGTON – The 2012 Utah Air Quality Summit convened Friday morning at the Washington City Community Center. It was hosted by the Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force in conjunction with the support of several environmental groups, local, state and federal agencies, to further the message that Southern Utah be attentive to improving its air quality and stemming any decline in air quality in the region.
City of St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur opened the ceremony, with follow-up talk on the initiatives made for the August Clear the Air Challenge. McArthur and others, including representatives of the Utah Truckers Association, focused on the impact reduction in idling vehicles can make.
Utah Clean Cities‘ Executive Director and Southern Coordinator Robin Erickson oversaw the event and noted the increased turnout as this becomes a recognized annual event. Today’s Summit was the third of its kind. Erickson said that by reducing dependence on foreign oil the beneficial byproduct of improved air quality would be enjoyed.
The Summit featured keynote speakers, Erin Mendenhall with Breathe Utah and Kim Manwill with the Utah Department of Transportation.
Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth spoke on how many emissions are spared the air by the running of Zion’s park tram busses.
The Summit included a Q-and-A session for a panel of experts, moderated by Fox News Radio Perspectives Morning show co-host Kate Dalley. The members of the panel represented multiple industries including trucking, toxicology, fleet management, rock quarries, government, school districts and public works, (enumerated in St. George News preview story linked here).
Copyright St. George News, 2012
Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force 3rd Annual Air Quality Summit
(St. George, UT) - On September 21st, the Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force is hosting the 3rd Annual Air Quality Summit at the Washington City Community Center. With the public encouraged to attend, this year’s summit will focus on transportation issues affecting local citizens, industry, business, government and tourism. Southern Utah is known for its blue skies and clean air and so the City of St. George along with the Air Quality Task Force, are being proactive in order to maintain our air quality. The Air Quality Task Force was formed in 2006 and just one year later an Air Quality Ordinance was passed. Currently the task force has been working on getting another air quality monitor to measure the air coming into the area. We want to also understand what we are contributing to the air quality before it leaves Washington County. With over 50% of our air pollution coming from motor vehicles, transportation is a relevant topic for the summit to address. We’ve gathered a handful of people from all different sectors of the transportation industry in order to highlight the positive things that people are doing to reduce their contribution to air pollution, as well as the things that we could be doing in the future to improve these concerns.
This year’s keynote speakers will be Erin Mendenhall with Breath Utah and Kim Manwill with the Utah Department of Transportation. The summit will also have presentations by experts in the following fields:
• Performance and Emission Reductions by Utah Trucking Association
• Success stories using alternative fuels and solutions to transportation challenges
• Question & Answer panel moderated by Kate Dalley from Fox News 93.1 FM. Panel members include: Jimmy Andrus Utah Trucking Association, Derrick Pack Western Rock Products, Mike Shaw Washington City Fleet Management, Steven Packham DAQ Toxicologist, Dave McNeil Division of Air Quality, Curt Hutchings 5 County Association of Governments, Launi Schmutz Washington County School District Transportation, Larry Bulloch St. George Public Works.
As part of the Summit Mayor Dan McArthur will read a Proclamation designating September 16-22 as Air Quality Awareness Week.
copyright © 2012 KCSG