Utah DEQ News

Governor’s $100M Air Quality Request A Good Investment

By Donna Kemp Spangler

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In 2017, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and Gov. Gary Herbert announced a lofty goal to reduce annual emissions into Utah’s air by 25 percent by 2026 – an ambitious benchmark by any standard of measure, one made more difficult by Utah’s rapidly growing population.

But goals are nothing more than wishful thinking if you don’t have a plan in place to actually reach it. And the governor’s 2019 budget provides $100 million to make that plan a reality.

How exactly do we reach a 25 percent reduction? The governor’s plan calls on Utah citizens, businesses and industry to each do their part, and it involves a carrot much more than a stick.

Yes, there have been meaningful steps in recent years. The Legislature, with the nudging of the governor, has provided funding for a new air monitoring center and a new lab, as well as public education campaigns and grant money for individuals and businesses to exchange dirty engines for cleaner ones.

The $100 million raises the investment in Utah’s future to an unprecedented level. And that money will go directly to fund projects with the highest potential to improve air quality, such as:

  • Replacing wood-burning stoves and fireplaces with cleaner-burning natural gas versions. Wood stoves are a major source of winter-time pollution, one that directly impacts the health of everyone in Utah’s valleys. Past exchange efforts have replaced more than 1500 wood-burning stoves and fireplaces in Cache, Utah, and Salt Lake counties, and there is a current waiting list of 2,000 families wanting to swap out their wood-burning appliances.
  • Exchanging dirty two-stroke lawn mowers and snow blowers for electric ones. More than 12,000 people have signed on to a waiting list to exchange their dirty gas-guzzlers for emissions-free electric tools. Snow blowers alone account for 2 percent of all emissions during winter-time inversions.
  • Swapping out older, dirtier diesel engines used by industry, school buses, semi-trucks, and mass transit vehicles for cleaner-burning ones, something that will result in high bang for the buck in terms of air quality.
  • Encouraging state agencies to develop telecommuting plans for state workers, and remodeling state office buildings to be more energy efficient.

Last fall, Utah DEQ, UCAIR and Rocky Mountain Power helped exchange hundreds of dirty two-stroke snow blowers for clean electric ones.

The governor’s investment provides the resources and tools to help make the 25 percent reduction a reality. And there is every reason to believe it will work. The steps taken to date —  stringent controls on industry emissions, practical new regulations, cleaner technologies, and public education – have achieved remarkable improvements. In 2002, more than 2.5 million tons of pollution was emitted into Utah’s air, or more than one ton per person. By 2017, even as the population had exploded, total emissions had dropped to 1.7 million tons, only about a half ton per person.

In other words, per-person pollution is about half today what it was in 2002. The challenge, of course, is that there are many more Utahns, and that number is expected to soar to 3.6 million by 2025. And each person, more than ever before, will have to do their part to make certain the air we breathe is healthy for one and all.

The Utah Legislature will consider the Governor’s proposed allocation. You can visit our web site to follow the session. You can do your part by trying something simple to make clean air choices. For tips and suggestions, visit UCAIR.

Donna SpanglerI am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write an occasional blog post. You can read my previous blog posts at deq.utah.gov/news. You can follow me on Twitter @deqdonna

No Need to Panic! Steps You Can Take to Rid Your Home of Radon

By Eleanor Divver

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You’ve probably heard on the news that one in three homes in Utah has elevated levels of radon, and that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. And, since you care about your family’s health and safety, you’ve tested your home — and your results came in above the EPA action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). What do you do now?

Learning that you have elevated radon levels in your home can be upsetting, but fixing the problem is easier and less expensive than you may think. We’ve compiled the list below to help walk you through the mitigation process.

Hire a certified mitigator.

Certified mitigators have the technical knowledge to reduce radon levels in your home safely and effectively, so it’s critical that you hire a trained contractor who is certified in radon mitigation. Not sure where to find one? Go to our radon website and click on the Certified Mitigator link. You will be directed to the NRPP/AARST website where you can search for qualified professionals in Utah.

Get three bids from the NRPP/AARST list.

If you solicit at least three bids, you will have a good idea of the general price range of mitigation services.You may want to choose a contractor located close to your house or go with the lowest price.

Weigh your options

You will usually have two options for radon mitigation: an active mitigation system inside the home or outside the house. Since every home is different, one option may work better for you than the other. The cost should be around $1500. Mitigators begin the installation by drilling a five-inch circular hole in the foundation of your house. They use four-inch PVC piping and an exhaust fan located outside your house or in an attic space to pull the radon gas from the soil underneath the foundation. The gas is then released into the air away from your home.

Get a signed contract

The mitigator should sign a contract that he or she will get the radon levels at or below 2.7 pCi/L of air. If he or she is not willing to do this, don’t use them.

Test your home after the mitigation system is installed.

The contractor will give you a radon test kit to check the radon levels in your home after the mitigation system has been running for 24 hours. Certified mitigators guarantee their work, so they will return to your home and make adjustments to your system if the levels don’t fall below the 2.7 pCi/L threshold.

You can tell if your radon mitigation system is working properly by checking the manometer installed by the contractor. The manometer measures the vacuum pressure inside the radon system, letting you know if the system is on and the fan is working. We recommend that you test your home every two years, even with a mitigation system, to make sure that the system is still functioning properly.

After installation, your ongoing costs will be relatively minimal. You’ll pay about $6 to $8 per month on your utility bill, and you will need to replace the fan after about 15 years. Not sure if you can afford a mitigation system? If you or a family member needs financial assistance and you live in Salt Lake County, Green and Healthy Homes has funding available to help qualifying families pay for the costs of mitigation.

We hope this article takes some of the mystery out of radon mitigation. And remember, to protect yourself and your family, test your home for radon today.

Haven’t tested your home yet? We have $9 test kits available for Utah residents. Testing is easy, and you’ll get your results back quickly. Always use a certified mitigator if you have elevated levels of radon in your home. Be leery of individuals who come to your home and offer to install a mitigation system for you; certified mitigators wait to hear from you. If you have further questions about radon or radon mitigation systems, please call me at 801-536-0091.
Radon Gas

Eleanor Divver

I have worked in the radon field for 15 years, most recently as the radon coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality. I enjoy being outdoors with my family and golden retriever.

Utah Legislature 2019 Environmental Bill Tracker

Utah Legislature

The Department of Environmental Quality tracks environmental legislation before the 2019 Utah State Legislature as a service to the public. Bills and substitutions/modifications are updated daily.

HB0031  Water Supply and Surplus Water Amendments

Describes the process by which a municipality may provide water to customers outside the municipality’s political boundary and states that a municipality may not sell the municipality’s waterworks except to a public entity as defined in statute.

HB0032 Rulemaking Fiscal Accountability Amendments

Provides for review and legislative approval before the Water Quality Board adopts a nitrogen, phosphorus, or ammonia rule or standard that requires an expenditure by an individual public system in excess of $2 million but less than $10 million. If compliance with the rule or standard requires an expenditure of $10 million or more, the Water Quality Board shall submit the rule or standard to the Legislature for approval.

HB0098  Freight Switcher Emissions Mitigation

Creates procedures and terms for the Division of Air Quality to issue grants for the reduction of freight switcher locomotive emissions under the Clean Air Retrofit, Replacement, and Off-road Technology (CARROT) Program. The bill includes a one-time appropriation of $2 million from the General Fund.

HB0107  Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act Amendments

Amends the Sustainable Transportation Act Plan Act to expand the program to include a large-scale natural gas utility. The Public Utilities Commission may authorize a gas corporation to establish a program that promotes sustainability by increasing access to natural gas vehicles. The program would be in the public interest as defined in the Act if it improves air quality through the use of low-emissions vehicles.

HB0109  Hydrogen Fuel Production Amendments

Expands the definition of “throughput infrastructure project” to include a plant or facility that distributes hydrogen for use as a fuel in zero-emission motor vehicles in the context of allowable uses for money in the Permanent Community Impact Fund. Expands the definition of “high-cost infrastructure project” to include the construction of a plant or other facility for the production and distribution of hydrogen fuel used for transportation.

HB0123  Jordan River Recreation Area Amendments

Amends provisions related to the Jordan River recreation area, including acceptable expenditures by the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands for capital improvements within the recreation area and partnerships with service-oriented organizations or programs for trail maintenance, invasive species removal, and education programs.

HB0126  Tire Recycling Modifications

Modifies the definition of “crumb rubber,” addresses the definition and responsibilities of a waste tire transporter, adjusts the rates of partial reimbursement, and addresses funding for management of certain landfill or abandoned waste tire piles.

HB0139  Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments

Amends the penalties for a vehicle that violates the emission standards and prohibits the distraction or endangerment of a vulnerable highway user by the emission of excessive exhaust. Requires a law enforcement agency to report repeat offenders of emission standards to the local health department and requires the local health department to report repeat offenders of emission standards to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

HB0143 Water Conservation Plan Amendments

Modifies what is required to be included in a water conservation plan by retail water providers and water conservancy districts.

HB0148  Vehicle Idling Restrictions

Repeals provisions limiting a local highway authority’s ability to enact restrictions on vehicle idling.

HCR002  Concurrent Resolution Supporting Rural Development of Wind, Solar, Hydrogen, Hydroelectric, and Geothermal Energy

Acknowledges the important role of rural communities in the development of energy resources.  Recognizes the economic and supply benefits that wind, solar, hydrogen, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy development provide. Recognizes the energy market opportunities available to those states that develop wind, solar, hydrogen, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy. Supports the development of wind, solar, hydrogen, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy in rural areas of the state as a complement to Utah’s diversified energy.

HCR003  Concurrent Resolution Urging the Environmental Protection Agency to Update Switcher Locomotive Emission Standards

Recognizes the railroad’s economic impact in Utah and describes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) emission standards for switcher locomotives. Recognizes that higher emission standards for switcher locomotives would reduce harmful emissions in the state, acknowledges that federal law prohibits states from adopting more stringent emission standards for switcher locomotives, and urges the EPA to develop more stringent emission standards for switcher locomotives.

HJR001 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution–Municipal Water Resources

Proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to revise a provision relating to municipal water rights and sources of water supply, eliminate references to municipal waterworks, and specify the circumstances under which a municipality may commit water resources or supply water outside its boundary or exchange water resources. This resolution directs the lieutenant governor to submit this proposal to voters.

SB0017  Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Amendments

Modifies provisions regarding the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a municipality to enact protections for the municipality’s water waterworks and water sources and provides a process by which a municipality may adopt an ordinance or regulation under the municipality’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

SB0019  Sunset Reauthorization — Used Oil Management Act

Extends the repeal date of the Used Oil Management Act from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2029.

SB0020  Sunset Reauthorization — Solid and Hazardous Waste Act

Extends the repeal date of the Solid and Hazardous Waste Act from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2029.

SB0021  Sunset Reauthorization — Air Conservation Act

 Extends the repeal date of the Air Conservation Act from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2029.

SB0022  Sunset Reauthorization — Safe Drinking Water Act

Extends the repeal date of the Safe Drinking Water Act from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2029.

SB0023  Sunset Reauthorization — Water Quality Act

Extends the repeal date of the Water Quality Act from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2029.

SB0024  State Energy Policy Amendments

Adds the promotion of certain nuclear power generation technologies, energy development in certain areas, and energy education programs in grades K-12 to the state energy policy.

SB0046  Tire Recycling Amendments

Allows the Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control to authorize 100 percent reimbursement of a waste tire transporter’s or recycler’s cost if the  county applying for reimbursement is a county of the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth class or the municipality applying for reimbursement is in a county of the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth class.

SJR001  Joint Resolution Supporting the Study of Water Banking in Utah

Encourages the study of possible options to create and develop water banks to further the 2017 State Recommended Water Strategy and the preparation of recommendations for the Legislature to consider for the 2020 General Session.


Originally posted: January 11, 2019 at 10:00 am
Last updated: January 18, 2019 at 10:29 am
Categories: Featured, News

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Utah Environmental Quality Offering 100 Free Radon Kits

To request a kit, visit radon.utah.gov and click on the link for a free test. DEQ provides radon test kits for $9.

Testing your home for radon is easy. Winter is the perfect time to test your home for radon because all of your doors and windows are closed. Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated levels. Health officials point out that long-term radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. More Americans die from lung cancer than any other cancer. Every year 21,000 lung cancer deaths are because of radon exposure.