EPA threatens Utah with air quality sanctions

SALT LAKE CITY — The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to block federal road money if Utah refuses to remove an exemption allowing excessive pollution from oil refineries and other sources.

The EPA says in its ruling today that it will seize control of the state’s air quality management plan in two years if the exemption remains.

The so-called “unavoidable breakdown” rule allows companies to claim an excessive release of pollutants based on a malfunction. Under Utah law, that is not considered a violation, but federal law assumes the problem is the result of careless maintenance or operation and does consider it a violation.

Environmentalists say Utah allows industries to dump air pollutants without consequence. Other Western states, including Colorado and Wyoming, have removed similar exemptions. The state says it is reviewing the exemption.


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