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Santa Hands Out Air Masks to Inversion Choked Utah Shoppers

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2013-12-17 -

A band of clean-air advocacy groups rang in the third day of the “12 polluted Days of Christmas” by handing out literature and air masks to shoppers at the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City Tuesday.

The protesters were but a handful Tuesday but they represented numerous clean-air groups, such as the Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, Utah Moms for Clean Air and others. While a small gathering, their cause is something on the lips and in the lungs of most every Utahn, especially those on the Wasatch Front—dirty air.

For Alicia Connell, a co-founder of Communities for Clean Air, it's hypocritical for state leaders to call on everyday residents to cut back on driving while regulators let business and industry pollute with impunity.

“The laws are not strict enough on industry; we are letting them increase [pollution] while asking people not to drive. Don’t drive, ride your bike, but industry, go ahead and burn away,” Connell says. “It's wrong, it's backwards. They're being greedy and it's coming down to money over the people.”

Connell's group was formed in opposition to Stericycle, the controversial medical-waste incinerator in North Salt Lake. But she says Stericycle is not the only example of industry being given the green light by the state to pump-up pollution. She points to the recently approved expansion of the Holly Refinery in Woods Cross, where more than a hundred new trucks will be brought into the facility daily, as another example of the state's hypocrisy.

“They're asking us to drive less but they say 'Sure, Holly, bring in 150 more diesels a day.' The message is backwards,” Connell says. “I have no problem doing my part ... but it can't just be on us; industry needs to give, as well.”

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