The scenic vistas surrounding our area can be seen from miles away on a clear day. The clean air we breathe and the blue skies are qualities of life in Southwest Utah that can’t be taken for granted. Citizens for Dixie’s Future (CDF) is committed to maintaining clean air in Washington County. CDF took up the leadership of local opposition to the Toquop coal-fired power plant proposed just 30 miles west of St. George that has now been scrapped. The pressures of growth and more automobiles will ultimately affect the quality of the air we breathe: it is up to all of us to take a proactive approach in maintaining our clean air. CDF is a member of the the Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force. This group is a collaborative effort of the City of St George, the health department, industry, business and citizens and they meet once a month.

 With Utah Division of Air Quality’s budget cuts and serious air pollution problems in northern Utah the state isn’t that concerned about air quality in southwest Utah. But, with large pieces of land being cleared of vegetation and developed among other activities like unpaved roads fugitive dust (particulate matter less than 10 microns or PM10) has become a problem. Many years ago there was a monitor for particulates and the state took it out because it didn’t record any air quality problems. Creating a baseline with accurate monitoring and assessment of our current air quality is an imperative step in our efforts to prevent deterioration of the air. The City of St George has been proactive and is the only community that has a ordinance on controlling dust. All the cities should adopt some type of dust ordinance as well and become members of Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force.

We do have problems with dust and high ozone  levels.(smog) in the summer creating health problems for the young and the old. The state does have an ozone monitor in Santa Clara that you can look at on-line.  In 2011 the state did a  ozone study of Washington County and found high levels in Hurricane. There is also the Black Rock gypsum mine that puts dust in air and it’s just across the border in Arizona, you see the white mining scar off in the distance.  Although with the economic downturn they are not blasting as much putting dust plumes in the air. We are concerned that the City of St George approved an expansion of gypsum mine within the town limits that will put more dust in air. Gypsum is found in a lot of places in the county and new mines opening up will continue to be a problem and should be more controlled by the city and county. The state laws on air quality are not strong enough to protect our clean air. It will take your vigilance to stop new impacts to air quality from happening in your town.