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today's word on

Friday, April 8, 2005

"Once you have learned how to ask questions, you have learned how to learn."

--Neil Postman, journalism scholar (1931-2003)

USU JCOM NEWS NOTE: THE JCOM Department celebrates the Class of 2005 Friday with JDay, showcasing the best of student work in print and
broadcast journalism, the Web, photo, and public relations. Followed by the annual JCOM Awards Banquet--student awards, 2005-06 scholarship winner, speaker Robert Kirby of the Salt Lake Tribune, all with fine dining. For information or reservations, contact the USU JCOM Department at or 435-797-3292.

Has Cache Valley air flunked the EPA test? We'll know in a few days, Logan mayor says

By Lindsay Kite

March 12, 2005 | LOGAN -- "Too close to call" is how Mayor Doug Thompson described the city's unofficial air quality test results Friday.

The official report, which he said should be in by Monday or Tuesday, will be the deciding factor in whether or not the city meets the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality standard. If the test finds the particulate matter (PM) to be at 2.5 microns or smaller, the city reaches attainment.

If it is measured to be above that, the city will be deemed "non-attainment" and be forced to make major changes to improve these results.

"We're going to hit non-attainment eventually, but it is a bureaucratic catch-22," he said. "We need money to help the pollution problem, but they won't give you the money until you need it bad enough."

Cities in non-attainment are normally forced to institute mandatory emissions testing, but Thompson said that isn't the solution for Logan.

"First of all, it's costly. Also, it is a big-brother government that Westerners hate," he said. "Besides that, it doesn't do the job. The best it can do is to reduce pollution 20 to 25 percent, but when you are 80 percent above, 25 percent just doesn't cut it."

Two weeks ago, Thompson spoke with the EPA in Washington, D.C. to propose a plan. He said when the official found out Logan is currently at attainment, he was speechless and said he'd never seen a community so productive and still at attainment.

Thompson said the city's plan is to institute voluntary emissions testing, with the incentive of being able to drive on red burn days only if your vehicle passes. The problems with this are being able to predict red burn days in advance and notifying the pubic, he said.

"The most effective way to notify is not through the media, but with signs on both ends of Main Street," he said. "Seventy thousand cars travel in Cache Valley every day and 40,000 of those take Main Street."

Thompson said they need money for a sign dedicated to air quality that can be changed electronically, not manually like the previous sign.

The problem of prediction is complicated by this year's atypical pattern of pollution severity. He said the PM 2.5 standard has existed for five years, and during four of those years, it has been a steady climb from green to red.

"Before it has been either good or bad, but this year it tends to just stay at yellow," he said. "We are having to revise our notion of predictability and we need money for those experiments."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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