To: Rep. McKell, M.,
Subject: An urgent call to action!
Members of The Utah State Legislature:
I refer you to a letter to the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, written by, interestingly enough, a couple visiting our Great State from Redondo Beach, California (published January 7, 2014). For your convenience I have reprinted the content of this letter here, as follows:
Letters: Air pollution discouraging tourism, business
First Published Jan 07 2014 01:01 am • Updated 5 hours ago
What’s happened to Utah? We annually bring our family here from California for a weeklong skiing vacation, and we are appalled at the air quality here. When we descended down the canyon from Solitude, we saw a putrid, gray layer of polluted air.
How can there be such blatant disregard for the welfare of the citizens and visitors? We come here to be outside, experience nature, and enjoy the snow, all of which are ruined by the fact that we can barely breathe here. Legislation that allows such pollution is unconscionable.
This is a completely solvable problem, as we have solved it in California. The idea that emission restrictions would be detrimental to the Salt Lake economy is ludicrous. Industry would not leave, jobs would not be lost. The draw of clean air would bring in more tourists, thus bringing in more jobs and revenue for the state.
If the current Utah legislators are not voting to better regulate emissions here, this is an embarrassment to the Republican Party. How can our party be effective, if we are seen as people who poison our own children?
Should we take our tourism dollars to Colorado?
Eric and Nina Altschuler
Redondo Beach, Calif.
(End of Tribune content)
Ladies and gentlemen, this is shocking!
I am and have always been a proud resident of Utah. I live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet and am often an enthusiastic, ready and willing person to direct and help visitors who approach me on the street or people I know who plan to visit.
Fortunately I haven't been asked lately for directions from a visitor to Salt Lake City, or I would be tempted to apologize for the quality of our air.
It appears, from the tone of the referenced letter in the Tribune that it should be the place of our lawmakers in Utah to do just that -- apologize. This is an easily solvable problem. Subsidized mass transit is one such beginning, providing real, tangible incentives to residents to use our transit systems. Holding industries accountable for their output. Building clean and renewable energy plants for our power, and not ones that use our precious water resources but solar and wind. Consult with other cities who have successfully curtailed their emissions and improved their air quality.
It won't be easy, but it will have to be done. Have you walked in it? Do you ever leave your cars and just go walking? Do it. Really tax your lungs, and you will see. It can't continue like this.
Did you realize that a couple of days within the last few weeks our PM 2.5 exceeded Beijing, China?
Here's where it gets personal for me. I can't breathe. My rheumatologist is concerned about the air quality. I suffer with a connective tissue disease that affects many systems in my body. He says he believes the air pollution is responsible for many of his patients having difficulties than usual, and during our "inversion months". We still have to run some diagnostic tests, but he believes I have pleural effusion, a condition affecting the lining of my lungs.
I rarely go outside. It would be nice to be able to walk to the grocery store. It would be nice to get some exercise by walking the hills where I live. But living just over the hill from the refineries has its hazards for people like me who are sensitive to dirty air. Soon I am wheezing and forced to go back home. True story.
I would leave Utah if I had the means, but I don't. Besides, I was born here. I would purchase indoor air filters, but I don't have the means. I have a mother with Alzheimer's for whom I must stay until her decline ends in death. Happily I have a daughter with a young family that lives here. I enjoy my young granddaughters, and would like to live long enough to give them some happy memories.
Please, I am one of many. My story is not unique. So many are suffering. Please make this a priority. Begin to put some laws in place that will improve our problem, and not just writing it off to our geography and saying it's something with which we will have to live. Give my grandkids a fighting chance. Winter in Utah should be fun, when children can go outside and slide and build snowmen.
Nobody is getting any healthier, and the rest of the nation is noticing.