EPA issues deadline for Utah to reach air quality standards

The Environmental Protection Agency outlined regions in Utah that are not meeting public health air quality standards. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — The Environmental Protection Agency outlined regions in Utah that are not meeting public health air quality standards.

The EPA has designated areas along the Wasatch Front including Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Tooele and Utah counties, along with areas in the Uinta Basin as ‘marginal nonattainment’ areas. That means they narrowly missed standards under the Clean Air Act.

“It is a concern for all of us and we need to do something about that,” said Bryce Bird, director of the Division of Air Quality for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

In 2015, the EPA began in enforcing stricter ozone pollution standards, lowering it from 75 parts-per billion to 70 parts-per billion.

According to the DEQ, the EPA calculates ozone compliance on a three-year average of the fourth highest monitored eight-hour average. The fourth highest monitored eight-hour average along the Wasatch front in 2014 was 74 ppb. In 2015, that number was 82 ppb and in 2016 it was 76 ppb.

Bird described the new EPA designations as a ‘written warning.’

“Today’s action started a clock that over the next three years we’ll continue monitoring the air quality concentrations. If we exceed the air quality standards at the end of that 3-year period, then we develop a new state plan to reduce emissions in the future,” Bird said.

Utah is not required to submit a formal State Implementation Plan, but it is required meet standards within the next three years.

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