I have been a Salt Lake City resident for 10 years and am currently a grad student at the University of Utah working on a master's degree in city and metropolitan planning, with a focus on sustainable transportation and development.
Improving air quality is a hot topic at the U. The consensus among professors and students is that improvements are possible.
However, public policy can stand in the way of implementing change. Therefore, the biggest threat to improving air quality is Utah's Legislature.
Just when I think our legislators couldn't be more backward-thinking, they pass some crazy piece of legislation that makes me embarrassed to live in Utah. For example, 2012's HB148, Transfer of Public Lands Act, which has the potential to waste millions of taxpayer dollars litigating something the Legislature's own attorneys warned is unconstitutional.
As air quality worsens and we face more federal pollution-control sanctions, it wouldn't surprise me to hear some legislators suggest that we sue the federal government to relax air-quality standards.
Pat Bagley's March 14 cartoon at the close of the recent legislative session illustrates my concerns: an armed-to-the-teeth legislator in a dirty fog asks "What dirty air?"
Salt Lake City