OUR VIEW: Emissions tests won’t curb valley pollution
An Editorial Opinion
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 13:01
For many, improving air quality in Cache Valley poses thorny questions. The same beautiful mountains and climate we enjoy for much of the year make the valley prone to temperature inversions. Instead of dispersing, pollution from our vehicles, industrial facilities and even livestock haunts us like a massive yellow ghost some days.
Though the valley is more susceptible to inversions and air pollution, it’s held to the same air quality standards as the rest of the nation. Under EPA guidelines, the county council is required to take steps to improve air quality. Though local policymakers have long held out against mandatory vehicle emissions tests, they’re likely part of the valley’s near future.
While emissions tests may help, they’re a far cry short of a solution. Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon said in an interview that the tests may reduce vehicle emissions by 5 to 6 percent — and vehicles aren’t the only contributors to the valley’s air problem. Cattle and agricultural activities emit greenhouse gases, but agriculture makes up a huge part of the valley’s economy.
Whether you drive a truck or a Prius, whether you vote republican or democrat, air quality should be a concern. We all know someone we’d rather keep inside during a red air day — a pregnant wife, an elderly grandfather, a sibling with asthma. For a few days every January, we’re all stuck with our pollutants. And it’s likely that none of us is perfect when it comes to saving energy or reducing emissions.
Logan and its surrounding towns are spread out, and travel without a vehicle is impractical for many. Who would rather bike five miles through snowy streets than ride alone in a heated car? Public transit could be a solution, but decades ago, Cache Valley scrapped the trolley system in favor of private vehicles. Now, we’re finding the trend isn’t easy to reverse.
While Cache Valley has its geography to blame for much of its pollution problems, it’s a microcosm of the world. We’re used to a high-consumption lifestyle that creates problems for some of the most vulnerable members of society. In Cache Valley, the victims of bad air are the elderly, children and other sensitive to pollution. In the world, the prosperous throw out food, clothing and electronics others produced with hard labor for less than the U.S. minimum wage. A rapidly growing population will compound the pollution problem in Cache Valley and the energy problem in the world.
The solution to either of these dilemmas isn’t readily apparent. But by choice or by circumstance, it will probably mean everybody thinking more and using less.