Victories & Milestones

Since our inception, UPHE has led numerous initiatives to raise awareness about the health impacts of poor air quality and hold polluters accountable. Through a blend of scientific expertise and community engagement, UPHE has become a vital force in the fight for cleaner air and a cleaner environment. Our journey has been marked by significant milestones that reflect our unwavering commitment to environmental health. We educate, we advocate and when necessary, we litigate.

We Educate

In our education efforts, UPHE focuses on the crucial link between air pollution and human health. We strive to increase public awareness through a variety of educational initiatives, including lectures, keynote addresses, and school presentations. By disseminating scientifically grounded information, we empower communities to understand the profound impact of environmental issues on their well-being and to take action towards a healthier future.

We’ve held numerous public seminars on the latest medical research on how air pollution affects the brain, fetal development and pregnancy outcomes.

Inland Port 

As Co-Chair of the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition, UPHE co-authored a report called Common Sense vs. the Utah Inland Port. This report details the false narrative the port authority has been pushing and explains why this boondoggle is a terrible idea.

UPHE was instrumental in producing a Business Case Against the Port, authored by Dr. Robert C. Leachman, a professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the University of California at Berkeley. The evaluation provided information to the public and to legislators on why the inland ports business plan is flawed and threatens Utah’s taxbase. 

UPHE has provided crucial information on how the Inland Ports’ impact on wetlands is related to air quality concerns in an extensive Wetlands Report.

Preventing hazardous industrial operations

We spread awareness of Granite Construction’s environmental and ethical violations relevant to their proposal for a mine in Parley’s Canyon. We garnered nearly 3,000 signatures on a petition and letter to their management, and local officials to deny the proposed operations. 

We’ve rung the alarm for numerous communities and hosted public information sessions on the dangers of development in their neighborhoods from the Utah Inland Port, which residents had been previously unaware of. 

We’ve worked to educate the public and key decision makers on the dangers of fugitive dust from operations like mines to prevent them from being permitted in hazardous proximity to local neighborhoods. A prime example is our work to prevent a massive limestone mine and gravel pit in Parley’s Canyon, where winds blow over 25 MPH around 40% of the time. From the mouth of Parleys Canyon, 21,000 people live within a 1-mile radius and 139,000 people live within a 3-mile radius. We’ve submitted public comments at every step of the process to educate state agencies on the danger these operations pose to residents.

Preserving key ecosystems

UPHE’s board members and staff have presented on issues relating to Great Salt Lake at the 2023 Great Salt Lake Summit, 2023 Great Salt Lake Rally, and 2022 Great Salt Lake Rally

We’ve also co-organized and participated in several major rallies such as the 2017 Clean Air Rally, March for Science and People’s Climate March, Rallies for Parley’s Canyon and opposing Inland Port projects.


In October of 2023, UPHE finished a program made possible through a CDC grant received by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, which placed air purifiers in 70% of K-12 Schools and over 60% of Early Education Centers. This was one of the most important Utah clean air initiatives in the last 20 years.

In February of 2022, UPHE wrapped up the Burn Smart Program, a cooperative grant from the EPA’s Environmental Justice program, which completed 32 projects in Summit County, removing 7 wood burning appliances and replacing 25 with cleaner alternatives. A major component of this program included educating the communities on the dangers of wood smoke. 

2021 marked the end of 5 years of UPHE’s extensive work on the Lead Safe Housing Program, in cooperation with Salt Lake County Health Department and the CDC. The program worked to educate families about the dangers of lead poisoning and remediated dozens of low income homes to protect children from lead poisoning. UPHE spent countless hours in schools and attending numerous community events giving educational presentations and attending health fairs where we tested children for lead exposure. 

UPHE called for climate action in 2014 together with the Utah Medical Association during a time when talking about the climate crisis was significantly less popular than today. Now, air quality is one of Utah voters top areas of concern.

UPHE intensified the national spotlight on the high rates of infant deaths in the Uinta Basin, this time by facilitating a national feature story in Rolling Stone magazine.

We Advocate

UPHE is proud to have the expertise to amplify important messages at rallies and press conferences. Our unique blend of medical and public health knowledge brings a vital perspective to environmental issues, offering insights grounded in scientific rigor and community well-being. As proud advocates for the health of the community, UPHE serves as a trusted voice, ensuring that crucial health considerations are at the forefront of discussions and decisions regarding environmental policies and practices.

Organized over 300 medical professionals to sign on to a letter expressing the dangers to public health if Great Salt Lake continues to dry. 

Improving the air through reducing industry

Stericycle (medical waste incinerator) closed in July, 2022 in North Salt Lake after nearly 10 years of UPHE and resident activism. For 33 years prior, Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator has poured a witches brew of dioxins, furans, PAHs, lead, mercury, and likely radioactive isotopes and prions over North Salt Lake, the Foxboro subdivision in particular. The incineration of medical waste can increase rates of serious diseases, like cancer, endocrine and immune disorders, infertility and birth defects for people living as far as 4 miles away from the pollution source. Stericycle repeatedly violated regulations and faced fines before their closure. 

Together with partners, we successfully engaged the community in stopping a planned Navitus waste-to-energy “incinerator” in Sandy, UT.

We worked with allies all across the nation in getting new Clean Air Act rules passed for the 137 oil refineries in the U.S., rules that will now regulate flaring, reduce fugitive emissions, and require more monitoring.

We stopped the expansion of the gravel pit in Draper into nearby neighborhoods 

We worked with citizens in Draper and Salt Lake County to successfully oppose an expansion of the Geneva gravel pit at Point of the Mountain, which would have put local neighborhoods in the path of dangerous fugitive dust

Working with members and other advocacy groups, we stopped the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District from using Air Force planes to spray toxic chemical pesticides on the Northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City. 

Inland Port 

UPHE has co-hosted over a dozen rallies and press conferences ahead of Utah Inland Port decisions. We’ve provided a strong, science-backed voice against their proposals based on the threat to air quality and public health. 

Official comments

UPHE is proud to bring a scientific and medical voice to many local and national air quality and environmental issues. We’ve submitted numerous, heavily researched, widely acclaimed technical reports to state and federal regulators on issues such as:

See our full list of official comments to government agencies. By sharing our comments with the general public, we’ve been able to provide clear outlines to increase the number of comments sent.

We worked with Salt Lake and Summit County officials to get Utah’s toughest restrictions on wood burning implemented.

When Necessary, We Litigate

UPHE has effectively utilized legal action to hold industry polluters accountable and safeguard public health. By leveraging lawsuits, UPHE has challenged harmful practices and enforced environmental regulations, ensuring that industries adhere to standards that protect the community’s health. These legal efforts underscore UPHE’s commitment to combating pollution and its adverse effects, serving as a powerful tool to drive compliance and promote cleaner, safer environments. 


After an Appeals Court threw out the permit for Utah’s Uinta Basin Railway, Enefit American Oil abandoned a lease to mine oil shale.

Our lawsuit against 4 Wheel Parts resulted in them being prohibited from selling or installing aftermarket parts that defeat air pollution controls in pickups and other vehicles. The lawsuit also resulted in $200,000 to repair illegally polluting vehicles in Utah. Removing a catalytic converter in violation of federal and state air pollution laws, which was enabled by aftermarket exhaust kits sold by 4 Wheel Parts, can cause a twenty-fold increase in health-damaging emissions of nitrogen oxide from each vehicle.

UPHE joined conservation and community groups in suing the state of Utah for its failure to ensure that enough water reaches the Great Salt Lake to prevent ecological collapse. Upstream diversions have deprived the lake of water, causing a significant drop in water levels that threatens its unique ecological values and human health throughout the region. Our lawsuit says state officials have breached their trust obligations to Utahns by failing to take appropriate and necessary action to address the crisis and protect the lake.


UPHE brought a federal Clean Air Act and Noise Control Act enforcement action against four Harley-Davidson dealerships in Utah. Brought under the citizen suit provisions of both laws, UPHE alleges that the dealerships have been selling ear-splitting, high-polluting motorcycles for years.   

In a significant victory for cleaner air and the rule of law, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2019 decision that UPHE properly sued – and prevailed against – the Diesel Brothers under the Clean Air Act. The decision of the Appeals Court continues the prohibition against the Diesel Brothers from defeating emission control systems in diesel vehicles, and upholds in large part the penalties assessed against them. This lawsuit marks the first time ever the Federal Clean Air Act was used by an advocacy group for mobile source emissions and won.

Previous years

We are involved in litigation with the EPA over how much regional haze should be tolerated in our Mighty Five National Parks and weakened standards for the Hunter and Huntington coal fired power plants in Southern Utah. 

We joined with Earthjustice and other stakeholder on litigation to protect fence-line communities bordering chemical and petroleum plants 

We won an air toxics case together with Earthjustice that would compel the EPA to update health standards for hazardous air pollutants from 9 industrial sources.

With our allies UPHE settled a critical lawsuit forcing Tesoro and the other Utah oil refineries to update and bring their Clean Air Act Title V permits into compliance, something that hadn’t been done for 20 years.

If you’d like to be a part of future milestones and victories, consider becoming a monthly donor, or a member ($25/year) to ensure we can continue this important work.