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KUER News and RadioWest are bringing you a series of stories and conversations on Utah's air. It's easy to look at the haze on a red air quality day and say that something needs to be done about it. But what? We'll be talking about the roles that individuals, industry and government can play in cleaning up Utah's air quality. We'll also look at what the costs may to be to our economy and our health if we don't.

Utah Foundation Releases Report on Air Quality

A new report tries to cut through some of the confusion surrounding Utah’s air-pollution problems. ShawnTeigensays he stepped back to take an impartial look at one of Utah’s most important issues. He’s a research analyst for the non-partisan Utah Foundation. His report released Thursday notes pollution has not trended up -- or down -- over the past 15 years. He’s found that smoke from solid-fuels like wood and coal is an unexpectedly big problem. He’s also learned that federal clean-vehicle, clean-fuel standards called Tier 3 will go a long way to clean up the air.

“It’s been proposed by the EPA," Teigen says. "The Governor’s on board with it. The Air Quality Board – they like it. But it’s essentially you’ve got cleaner fuel going into a cleaner vehicle, and that’s a big, big, big deal.”

The latest study follows up on the foundation’s past research that showed air-quality is a top-five priority for Utahns. It cites research projecting that the Clean Air Act will cost around $65 billion over the next 30 years while saving nearly $2 trillion. The report also touches on how advocates and the business community have played a role in pushing air pollution to the top of the agenda.

“You’ve got all these groups with all these different messages but ultimately they do have a similar, common message," he says, "and that may be part of the reason why this issue has some legs also, because are talking about it in a lot of different circles.”

Teigen also notes that groups like the Salt Lake Chamber have raised concerns about how pollution affects the state’s ability to attract businesses and visitors.

Copyright 2014 KUER 90.1

Judy Fahys is KUER's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region. The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.