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UTAH MUST CHANGE SHARPLY TO CLEAN UP ITS DIRTY AIR

SHARE UTAH MUST CHANGE SHARPLY TO CLEAN UP ITS DIRTY AIR

Some major changes in the lifestyles of Utahns are on the horizon if recommendations being forwarded to the Governors Commission on Clean Air are put in place.

More mass transit, fewer downtown parking slots, tougher auto emission standards and no more cozy fires in the living room fireplace on a cold winter's night are a few of the recommendations coming out of a commission working group.Utah is striving to meet federal clean air standards and reduce emissions from industry, vehicles and other air pollution sources. It's hard to argue with the goal of clean air. No one likes those bleak winter days when, trapped by an inversion, we go about our business in hazy, soupy, polluted air.

There are also sound economic reasons to support a cleanup of Utah's air. The state relies heavily on its tourist industry to put dollars into its economy. Tourists don't stay long in a place where the scenic vistas are blocked by smog and haze.

Also, a survey of businesses that have moved here, bringing jobs, shows that the state's quality of life - it's overall environment - ranks high, right behind the availability of a skilled and educated work force, in their decision.

To clean up the state's air, the working group has made the following recommendations:

- Rely more on an improved mass transit system, including light rail, to encourage Utahns to leave their vehicles at home.

- Impose the emissions standards currently used in California on Utah's vehicles. And, require all vehicles, not just those on the Wasatch Front counties, to meet stiffer emissions and performance standards.

- Include air quality impact among the criteria used by city governments when setting business license and planning and zoning standards.

- Limit the number of parking garages and on-street parking slots in urban areas, again to discourage commuting in private vehicles and make mass transit more attractive.

- Restrict the use of woodburning stoves and fireplaces on days when air quality falls below a certain standard.

The state does not have much room to maneuver. Standards for clean air, like clean water, are federally mandated and the state must hustle to comply with them.