Welcome to winter in Utah, where the air is inverting, the highways are slippery and the speed limits are inflating. And if all goes as usual, parents waiting for their kids will be idling their cars outside schools. It's a recipe for soupy air and particulate-laden lungs. So, one might ask, what was the Utah Department of Transportation thinking when it increased the highway speed limit to 70 miles per hour? That this is Utah, where anything goes and you don't need to wear a helmet, either? In California, state law requires that the Bay Area reduce its overall level of air pollution 15 percent by 2035. To that end, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has considered dropping the speed limit from 65 to 55 because higher speeds mean more pollution. But neither lives nor lungs can knock UDOT from its course.
Then there's the Little House on the Prairie issue, otherwise known as how to regulate wood burning in Utah. Apparently, there are 207 homes on the Wasatch Front that still depend on wood as their sole heat source. "Utah's Division of Air Quality estimates a home heated with wood emits as much particulate pollution as 200 homes heated with natural gas and as many volatile organic compounds as 500 homes," The Salt Lake Tribune wrote. On Dec. 3, the DAQ may include businesses and institutions in its burn ban. On Dec. 11, the Salt Lake County Department of Health will hold a hearing on a plan that could prohibit burning on all but the clearest winter days. There is financial aid available to homeowners who want to convert. They should take it now.
Does Sen. Aaron Osmond really want to go there? Does he really want a fight over the state's favorite domestic animal? Maybe it was a sweet gesture on his part to listen to a fourth-grade class at Daybreak Elementary. They apparently love the pretty golden retriever. Forget diversity, and goodbye poodles, mixed breeds and homeless pets. But more to the point, does Osmond have any idea what dog-lovers are like? Take a page from the ongoing battles over dog parks, pitbulls and leash laws. Sometimes it seems like there's no more contentious issue than dogs. On the other hand, some suggest it's a great idea to keep the legislature busy choosing state pets. It might keep them out of the bedroom or the bar.