LAYTON — Mark Graham, 36, probably the most vocal critic of Wasatch Energy Systems, better known as the Layton burn plant and landfill, has moved to Sacramento.
"The Crusade for Clean Air, as I have called it, has been time-consuming, enjoyable and quite a learning experience," Graham said.
He's moving with mixed feelings, but feels he needs to get out of Utah and get a new start in a bigger city.
Graham, a Chicago native, has lived in Layton for the past five years and has been involved with air quality issues for the past 3 1/2 years. His initial crusade was for clean air and to shut down the burn plant. He said when he realized a shutdown wouldn't happen, he concentrated on emission reductions.
He also frequently questioned Wasatch Energy, a special service district, on its spending practices and employee salaries. He was a strong proponent for lower costs of garbage disposal for Davis County and was pleased with a recent announcement by the district that it will reduce resident dumping costs at the burn plant by $2 starting this fall.
LeGrand Bitter, executive director of Wasatch Energy, believes Graham's departure will benefit the district.
"It will save us some money," he said, explaining Graham has probably cost Wasatch close to $200,000 in records access through GRAMA requests and also legal battles.
Bitter said Graham cost the district $60,000 alone in GRAMA costs.
But Graham said you can't put a dollar figure on polluted air.
He believes he's made a difference in Davis County.
"I raised awareness," he said. "More people in Davis County know about the burn plant, dioxin emission violations. . . . I made a lot of friends in Layton who want their air pollution reduced and their air cleaned up. Hopefully, I started a lawsuit that will eventually force the burn plant to reduce its dioxin emissions."
Wasatch is spending some $7 million in the next year on additional pollution control equipment and believes it will be exceeding the standards the Environmental Protection Agency has set. The district has also had independent studies conducted that conclude the burn plant is not a health risk for Davis County residents.
Graham said previous appeals he's made to the Utah Air Quality Board will continue and that his basic crusade for clean air will remain through the Families Against Incinerator Risk group.
He believes most Utahns are too complacent about letting companies and their government get away with polluting the environment.