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Utahns concerned about protecting air quality, both officials and citizen activists, welcomed Kennecott's announcement.

"We've been expecting it for a period of time and think it will go a long ways in helping clean up the air here in Salt Lake Valley," said Kenneth Alkema, director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.The state asked Kennecott to reduce its sulfur dioxide emissions to 5,700 pounds an hour, and now the revamping is expected to drop the copper giant's releases to 200 pounds an hour. "It's just exciting, this announcement they made," he said.

"Our impression is that if what they say is correct - that is, if they meet the 200 pounds per hour - that that's great," said Scott K. Endicott, chairman of the Environmental Health Committee of the Sierra Club's Utah Chapter.

"It'll be a very significant improvement." Kennecott is by far the largest sulfur dioxide polluter in the valley, and the changes will go a long way toward cleaning up air quality, Endicott said.

"This is a very economically savvy move for them."