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The EPA’s recent rejection of Utah Division of Air Quality's request to allow a higher ozone

Brian Moench

Dr. Brian Moench with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment about the EPA’s recent rejection of a request by the Utah Division of Air Quality to allow a higher ozone.

If the EPA would have agreed to the request, then Utahns would have been subjected to higher levels of ozone air pollution.

In 2018, EPA designated the Northern Wasatch Front airshed (which includes Salt Lake, Davis and parts of Weber and Tooele Counties) and the Uinta Basin "nonattainment," i.e. in violation of EPA's national standard for ozone. Consequently, the EPA would normally require a state to develop a plan to reduce ozone enough to achieve "attainment."

However, an obscure section of the Clean Air Act (CCA) allows a community to appeal to EPA for retrospective "relief" from non-attainment designation, and therefore avoid having to develop a strategy to reduce ozone, if it can show that a significant component of their ozone originates outside their borders, i.e. in a foreign country. Utah is making what appears to be the first ever attempt by a state to invoke this section of the CCA, 179B, by asking the EPA to accept evidence that a significant portion of our ozone, and/or ozone precursors, originates outside our borders, especially in Asia.

Dr. Brian Moench is a former faculty member of the University of Utah Honors Program, teaching public health and the environment. He was the former chairman of the Department of Anesthesia at Holy Cross Hospital and has been in private practice anesthesia at Holy Cross Hospital, LDS Hospital, and Intermountain Medical Center since 1981. He joins the show today to discuss the rejection of Utah Division of Air Quality's request to allow a higher ozone.

Co-host of KPCW's This Green Earth.
Co-host of KPCW's This Green Earth.