Air Quality and the Utah Legislature

I thought for today that I’d post a letter to the editor that the Salt Lake Tribune printed back in March:

I have been a Salt Lake City resident for ten years and am currently a grad student at the University of Utah working on a Master of City and Metropolitan Planning with a focus on sustainable transportation and development. Improving air quality is a hot topic at the U, and the consensus among professors and students is that improvements are possible. However, public policy can stand in the way of implementing change. Therefore, I honestly feel that the biggest threat to improving air quality in Utah is the Utah legislature (generally speaking). Just when I think they couldn’t be more backward-thinking, they go and pass some crazy piece of legislation that makes me embarrassed to live in Utah. For example, HB148 “Transfer of Public Lands Act” from the 2012 General Session, which has the potential to waste millions of taxpayer dollars litigating for something that the legislature’s own attorneys have warned is unconstitutional. As air quality worsens and we face more federal sanctions, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear some legislators suggesting that we sue the federal government to relax air quality standards! The “Bagley cartoon: Legislation Culmination” illustrates my concerns.