Utah is trying to get out of being a Good Neighbor

Dr. Moench took part in an Earthjustice national virtual press conference explaining why they are pushing back against the pollution industries’ attempt to get the Supreme Court to rule against implementation of the EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule.  

According to data from the Utah Division of Air Quality, Hunter Power Plant was the state’s largest source of nitrogen oxide emissions in 2017, totaling 9,766 tons that year.

The 2024 Utah legislature passed two bills aimed at avoiding federal air quality standards. HB 373 requires the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to meet with a committee specifically designed to prevent perceived federal government overreach. DEQ will have to update this committee on regulations regarding polluting industries. 

The legislature also passed SB 57, which UPHE warned against because of its attempt to skirt the EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule. The rule forces states with major sources of pollution, like coal power plants, to clean them up so that their pollution doesn’t blanket downwind states, like Utah does. Utah has been attempting to avoid the rule through the court system, but has been denied so far.

Read more about these two bills in the Salt Lake Tribune here.

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The rule would force states with major sources of pollution, like coal power plants, to clean them up so that their pollution doesn’t blanket downwind states. Utah is one of the states trying to stop the rule because our state’s powerful politicians don’t want to force our coal power plants from sending their pollution to Colorado and beyond.  

Earthjustice asked UPHE to be the national voice of the medical community in explaining why this rule is so important to protect public health.

The Good Neighbor Rule would reduce ozone air pollution nationwide, making it essential for the health of every American. The research is indisputable, breathing ozone is a serious health hazard for everyone. Including shortening life expectancy by accelerating the aging process, whether or not someone has symptoms,” Dr. Moench spoke on behalf of UPHE at the conference. 

Photo by E P Kosmicki shows how close Utah is willing to put polluting industry to its own residents.

“Ozone is a potent oxidizing gas, damaging lungs causing loss of lung function and lung tissue, causing lung scarring, increasing vulnerability to infections, and suppressing normal lung growth in children. Normal life expectancy is dependent on normal lung function. Ozone also makes the lungs more permeable to other components of air pollution like particulate matter and toxic chemicals. But ozone is far more than just toxic to the lungs. If protection from air pollution is denied, or even delayed, the public health consequences can be severe. Small increases in ozone, even short term, increase the risk of hospitalizations for multiple conditions, including cardiovascular events, poor pregnancy outcomes, and deterioration of kidney and liver function.”

You can watch the press conference here. Dr. Moench begins speaking eight minutes in. 

The state of Utah’s effort to overturn the Good Neighbor Rule is indefensible, and UPHE is proud to be part of the effort to block the attempt before the Supreme Court to overturn it.