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A regional environmental group has sued the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) to obtain pollution-compliance records it says the agency has improperly withheld.

Western Resource Advocates says it requested copies of pollution records for two gravel pits located at Point of the Mountain after area residents complained about clouds of dust.

But according to the group's complaint, filed earlier this month in Third District Court, the DAQ said it could not provide the records because they were in the possession of the gravel pit operators. As a result, the DAQ said, the records are not government documents subject to state open-records laws.

The gravel pits, one owned by Geneva Rock Products and the other by Staker & Parson Companies, are located in an area that does not meet federal air-quality standards, making the sites subject to what's known as the state's "fugitive dust rule" — requiring the gravel pits to keep records on the dust their operations produce.

The dust rule, like many other air pollution restrictions, requires the emitter to make those records available for inspection by officials at DAQ.

According to the state agency, the Staker & Parson site was last inspected in July 2016 and the inspection determined the gravel pit was in compliance with all applicable regulations, including those on emissions records-keeping. The Geneva Rock site was also inspected in July 2016, DAQ said, and found to be compliant with all regulations.

But Joro Walker, senior attorney at Western Resource Advocates, said the inspection records only demonstrate that the gravel pits complied at the time of the inspection. She said the group wants to see the company's full records to determine if the pits are following the state's rules year-round.

Without the records, Walker said, the public also cannot determine whether the DAQ is properly enforcing air pollution rules.

"To say, 'Trust us to review these records, you don't need to see them' — that's inappropriate," said Walker.

DAQ director Bryce Bird declined to comment on the suit.

Dave Kallas, spokesman for Geneva Rock, said they were unaware of the records request until they obtained a copy of the lawsuit.

Kallas said the company does maintain the records in question and provides them to the DAQ when asked to do so. But he declined to say what action the company might take, pending legal review by company attorneys.

An attempt to reach Staker & Parson Companies was unsuccessful.

Walker said Western Resource Advocates filed its lawsuit partly to press a broader issue.

Several state air quality regulations require polluters to maintain emissions regulations, but also permit them to keep those records on site, Walker said. Western Resource Advocates has long been concerned the public could be denied access to those records because they were not in the possession of a government entity.

"This type of system where the source keeps the records is fairly common," she said. "This should not be an excuse or a way to hide them away from public disclosure."

Twitter: @EmaPen