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HB 220 Update
Last winter, O₂ Utah worked with our legislative champions to pass HB 220. This bill was intended to deal with a huge problem: bromine pollution from US Magnesium, which new research found can increase our winter-time inversion pollution by up to 25%.
HB 220 created a three-step system for Utah’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) to solve this problem:
Identify. DAQ is required to identify and quantify all industrial sources of bromine pollution and other similar pollutants classified as “halogens” in case other companies are contributing to this problem.
Begin reducing bromine. DAQ permits for big industrial pollution sources typically require companies to install specific technology to limit a pollutant (as opposed to just telling a company how little of that pollutant it can emit). Before HB 220, there was no federal or state limit on bromine emissions, so DAQ never required companies to install specific tools or technologies to limit those emissions.
This bill required DAQ to use its typical approach and make US Magnesium — and any other company it found emitting bromine in step one — install technology to control that pollution (as well as other halogen emissions).
Recommend a state standard for bromine. As explained above, there is no federal or state limit on how much bromine companies can emit in our airshed. The science of bromine’s impact is very new. Eventually, everyone will need to know what reduction target we are aiming for.
This is why HB 220 requires DAQ to recommend a target, or state standard, to the Legislature so it can decide whether to make that law (along with whether other standards for halogens are necessary). A law that would then inform those ongoing efforts to reduce bromine.
HB 220 requires DAQ to then update the Legislature on its progress toward these goals. This month, DAQ submitted its first report.
Unfortunately, DAQ has apparently decided this law is merely a suggestion; and one it is going to ignore.
As mind-boggling as that sounds, DAQ’s report indicates that it plans to avoid steps two and three of HB 220 outlined above. It has no plan to reduce bromine emissions — the biggest thing it could do to reduce our winter pollution spikes.
DAQ’s excuse? According to DAQ’s report, its regulations won’t let it require companies to install technology to reduce bromine emissions unless it had made that requirement before the polluting facility was built. But any law student is taught during the first week of school that law trumps regulation. Apparently, DAQ never bothered to run this report by its lawyers.
And as for a state bromine standard, DAQ tries to weasel out of this by whining that this would be a “considerable step” and not something it typically does, so it wants to punt to the EPA.
Needless to say, it is disappointing DAQ is unwilling to do its job as required by law and won’t solve this huge pollution problem.
Please join us in contacting DAQ director Bryce Bird, to express the importance of complying with all steps of HB 220 and swiftly addressing bromine pollution from US Magnesium.
Election Day — November 21 is around the corner!
Postmark your ballot by Monday, November 20! There are also in-person voting options leading up to and on Election Day. Please visit your county's election info page for location details.
O₂ Utah has endorsed 19 municipal candidates across 11 cities committed to providing positive environmental outcomes for their constituents.
Join us at the O₂ Utah office for an Election Day Call-A-Thon! We'll call our fellow Utahns and remind them to vote in this critical municipal election.
We'll keep you fueled with coffee and bagels throughout the day and pizza in the evening.
Shifts: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; 1 p.m.-3 p.m.; 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Community Renewable Energy Program
Last month, we updated you that Utah Renewable Communities and Rocky Mountain Power signed a Utility Agreement — a significant step in achieving net-100% renewable energy for participating communities.
Along with partner organizations, O₂ Utah has regularly communicated with city councils, ensuring each community completes the necessary steps to remain in the program.
If you live in one of the participating communities, please contact your city council members and mayors expressing your support for remaining in the Community Renewable Energy Program. It is helpful to cite why renewable energy is important to you and its benefits for our air quality and climate.
Here are a few documents that we think can be helpful in your argument for protecting the Community Renewable Energy Program.
The Utility Agreement (Utility Agreement - URC Signature 10-02-2023.pdf), signed by the Utah Renewable Communities Chair. Each community simply needs to have the community government's authorized signer sign on the appropriate signature block for their community. The signature blocks are found on pages 21-23.
An informational memo (Utility Agreement Memo.pdf) with a lengthy explanation about the need for the Utility Agreement and what it does and doesn't do.
Informational slides (Utility Agreement Slides.pdf) with a more concise explanation.
Sustaining Donor Monthly Giveaway
O₂ Utah sustaining donors make a monthly commitment to us, and now, we are making a monthly commitment to you.
Each month, we'll reward a sustaining donor with a gift card, swag item, or unique experience from a partner organization.
November’s prize is a $50 gift card to Harmons for all of your holiday shopping. Thank you to Harmons for their partnership!
Donate today and toggle that 'Make it monthly!' button to help clean our air and be automatically entered to win each month!
With the holidays around the corner, so is the crunch to meet our year-end fundraising goals. Grassroots donors like you are the backbone of our organization. Renew a past donation or become a donor today and Give Clean Air.
Thanks to your donations, O₂ Utah was able to provide campaign support to 19 climate champion candidates in the municipal cycle, and with your help, we will continue to pass bold air quality legislation in the upcoming legislative session. Our impact comes from your giving.
As you plan your end-of-year giving, please consider a gift to O₂ Utah and join us in our mission for clean air across the Wasatch Front. Give Clean Air.
In The News
Intermountain Health evaluated health records for nearly 22,000 adults treated for heart attack or unstable chest pain from 1999-2022 throughout the Wasatch Front.
One key finding: a significant association between elevated winter-time PM2.5 pollution and same-day hospitalizations for heart attacks.
We know our poor air quality costs Utahn's, on average, 2-5 years of our lives. We are working every day to address emission sources so we can all breathe clean air.
Scientists recently discovered large samples of neurotoxins in dried lake beds of the Great Salt Lake and "a very large signal" in an air sample.
The toxins can trigger the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease and ALS in nonhuman primates — obviously, an alarming finding.
While it is hard to draw concrete proof, and could be years before a direct link is shown, it only furthers the need for water and air quality policies.
“Research on its own can't make change,” O₂ Utah policy director Eliza Cowie told Fox13. “It’s really important to get people involved to take that information and produce it as a policy solution. You can't rely purely on researchers and scientists to save us. We need to kind of take the information and produce our own results.”
O₂ & You Podcast
The O₂ & You Podcast is back!
Hosted by O₂ Utah executive director David Garbett, we’ll bring you engaging conversations on Utah politics, air quality, environment, and more.
In the last few weeks, we have published three new episodes. One with Ogden mayoral candidate Taylor Knuth to discuss his campaign, vision for the city, and the Community Renewable Energy Program.
Listen wherever you get your podcasts and be sure to subscribe to get all of the new episodes!
Environmental Connect Happy Hour
Once a month, Utah's environmental advocates meet up for a happy hour to connect our community.
The group includes members from O₂ Utah, HEAL, Sierra Club, Rural Utah Project, Protect Our Winters, Save Our Canyons, Utah Clean Energy, Utah Rivers Council, UCAIR, and many other wonderful environmental groups.
And now, we want to include you! We typically meet at TF Brewing, but the location can vary. If you're interested in joining us for a future happy hour, reply to this email, and we'll add you to the calendar invitation!
O₂ Utah is an environmental nonprofit whose mission is to clean our state's air and eliminate our contributions to climate change through elections and policy. Donate Today to support our work and clean Utah's air.