Park City should take heed: Salt Lake smog could happen here
"If you can’t be a role model, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning."
We used to be smug about Salt Lake City’s smog, but these days we find ourselves staring down Parley’s Canyon and worrying if, someday, we might suffer a similar fate. Already, on certain mornings, a thin yellow haze settles over the Snyderville Basin and during the après ski commute, the smell of car exhaust replaces the scent of fresh powder and pine.
But, as the morning sun warms the Basin those wisps of worry are too often forgotten. Unfortunately, so does our commitment to curbing the sources of our own air pollution (chief among them: wood smoke and auto emissions). One trip to Salt Lake City, though, serves as a somber warning that, left unchecked, smog can effectively yank the welcome mat out from under an otherwise attractive community.
Powder Magazine recently published a feature-length story about Salt Lake City’s crippling smog, pointing out that, at times, its particulate levels are comparable to that poster child of bad air: Beijing.
The author states: "These episodes of bad air cast a black eye on Salt Lake City, a health-conscious community on the doorstep of world-class recreation. The article goes on to quote the usually upbeat spokesman for Utah’s ski industry as saying the inversions are "bad for tourism and quality of life."
Salt Lake City leaders have been paying lip service to the problem for at least a decade, and yet astonishingly, have failed to make any meaningful progress in cleaning it up. The air quality is so bad that Salt Lake City has been singled out by the Environmental Protection Agency for sanctions unless it takes action soon.
In the meantime, state legislators are passing the buck back to the feds, who they say are the only ones with the power to enact regulations necessary to limit industrial and auto related emissions.
While they duke it out and Salt Lake residents are forced tohunker down inside instead of jogging or cycling in the great outdoors, we have the opportunity here in Summit County to steer clear of their example. We can empower our leaders to take bold steps toward reducing air pollution – like those under consideration as part of the long range transportation plan that call for more mass transit and fewer cars.
We can take personal ownership of the issue by reducing energy consumption in our homes and altering our transportation habits. We can also actively support legislation that strengthens air quality standards — on both local, state and federal levels and ensure that strict sanctions are imposed on those who don’t comply.
For more information about ways to conserve energy and to prevent our community from someday succumbing to Salt Lake-like air pollution, log on to Summit County Power Works: scpw.org
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“Between making nectar, shooing away wasps and cleaning and filling the feeders, keeping these feathered freeloaders happy was a commitment, if not an amusing way to entertain myself,” Amy Roberts writes of hummingbirds, her summertime companions in Park City.