Business over health

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Forbes magazine announced that Utah is the "best state for business." Gov. Gary Herbert claims a key reason for this distinction is Utah's "positive regulatory climate." Forbes missed the point.

Our lax regulatory climate and the air pollution it fails to curb are bad for business. As Forbes made its pronouncement, Utah experienced a prolonged episode of severe fine-particulate (PM2.5) air pollution, hitting daily average concentrations of 92.3 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter of air in Utah County — almost three times the health-based standard of 35.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake reached a 24-hour average of PM2.5 concentrations of 61.6, Logan 74.8 and Vernal 40.6.

As this data confirms, our air pollution is so serious that it results in higher health care costs, absenteeism, lower productivity and reduced quality of life, and it scares away companies looking for an appealing place to locate.

Herbert also has it wrong. A regulatory climate that puts "business" before the health and welfare of Utahns is bad for the state.

We cannot continue to sacrifice the well-being of our children, parents and neighbors to a misguided notion that business as usual — failing to tackle our pollution problem — is a good business practice.

Jennifer Walker

Salt Lake City