Toxic Air 

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Two related items arrived in my inbox this week. One was the announcement of Utah’s state implementation plan to improve our air quality, so that one day we may, perhaps, be breathing air that barely meets Clean Air Act standards—but only in six years’ time.

Provided, of course, that Kennecott can cut its emissions by 10 percent using a technology that hasn’t been invented yet, and that our expanded refineries do not exceed their permitted limits. Meanwhile, we can continue inhaling carcinogenic PM2.5, which also has implications for asthma, stroke, heart attacks and other health problems.

The second item in my inbox was the article “Generation Toxic” by Florence Williams from the current issue of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s One Earth magazine, detailing the serious harm done to children, especially to their developing brains, by air pollution.

Utah (with a birthrate 50 percent higher than the national average) prides itself on its large families, but our decision-makers seem to be more concerned with children being born than with their subsequent health and well-being (as evidenced not just by this “clean air” decision but also, for example, reductions in food stamps, failure to expand Medicaid, and chronically under-funded education).  

Failure to defend the defenseless is a damning indictment of Utah’s leadership.

Richard Middleton
Salt Lake City

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