By Jeremy Couch
The Wasatch Front Regional Council is currently handling chalenges from the Sierra Club on the its air quality conformity plan for the new Legacy Parkway.
Sierra Club officials contend that the council’s current models for calculating air quality have major flaws.
The conformity plan was developed to show federal transportation agencies that construction projects will not push emissions past state air quality standards, said Sam Klemm, public affairs officer for the Wasatch Front Regional Council.
The council has never built a model showing how much pollution will be created by the new projects, said Nina Dougherty, chairwoman of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.
When the government builds more highways, traffic levels rise, increasing emissions, she said.
The council disagrees with the Sierra Club’s stand, stating that the activists have their facts wrong.
“We have looked over the disputes that we have received from the from Sierra Club and have taken strong exception to the allegations,” Klemm said.
He said the council used one of the EPA’s own models in its caculations.
“We have went by the book and are comfortable by what we are doing and feel that we are on firm ground,” Klemm said.
If the council does not show that proposed projects will meet air quality standards, future projects, including lane expansions, highway construction and additional mass transit systems, could be halted, he said.
The project was unanimously approved by a transportation subcommittee and now will go back to the council to be reviewed with recommendations.