If you find yourself traveling through a low-hanging cloud of smog, with five big refineries, a medical waste incinerator, and the outlines of the world’s largest copper mine barely discernible through the pollution, you are not in fact in a post-apocalyptic landscape, but simply experiencing a regular inversion day in the Valley. Welcome to Salt Lake City — where the legislature seems to be remarkably good at catering to the non-breathing, lung-less part of the population, while ignoring the rest. That’s why we’re calling for a month of action for clean air throughout February.
We invite all air breathers, organizations, and community groups to organize events, actions, and activities that spotlight air quality issues. Join the Wasatch Winter—a month of action for clean air—and make yourself heard!
How to get involved:
Getting involved is easy. Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance will be planning a few actions and workshops, but we encourage you to plan your own events to take a stand for clean air.
To kick things off, we’ve put together an open calendar where you can see what’s going on. You can also post YOUR organisation’s event on the calendar and it’s easy to embed in your own website — so help us get the word out! (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to add events, get admin rights for your group, or the embed codes to add the calendar to your website).
We would love to see folks throughout the valley come together — already planned are a Peaceful Uprising workshop, an air quality info evening at the Unitarian Church, and a gas mask flashmob.
Why we’re demanding clean air for all:
If you live on the Wasatch Front, you live in a sacrifice zone where corporate rights trump human health. The state of Utah is doing its best to skirt around EPA mandates, with our Department of Air Quality having just approved a plan that is far too lenient on the biggest polluters by EPA standards. The state prefers to place blame on lower-income individuals, like those who might have to burn wood to stay warm in the winter, rather than Tesoro, Chevron, Kennecott, and other major polluters that actually profit from spewing poison into our air.
In fact, the state DAQ’s plan allows industry to actually increase emissions by 12 percent—while requiring individuals to lower their emissions. And, as The Salt Lake Tribune writes, “the plan would exempt pollution these industries release when their equipment is malfunctioning or in startup or shutdown modes, periods when they spew far more pollution than when they are operating normally.” Sound fair? We didn’t think so.
Individual actions alone will not clean up our air. In a world where not having a car can be a privilege when it means you don’t have to work “odd hours” when TRAX isn’t running just to get to a crappy, low-paying job that channels a good chunk of your earnings into gas and car maintenance, we need systemic changes that make it easier for individuals to pollute less while simultaneously requiring big polluters to lower emissions.
But while we’re supposed to buy TRAX passes or brave the icy roads on our bikes in the winter, Tesoro and Chevron are refining Canadian tar sands. This stuff is so bad that it almost makes regular crude look green. It floods our air with the PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) and other toxins the state should be protecting us from. Worse, tar sands refining could scale up dramatically in the coming years if companies start mining in eastern Utah—like one Canadian company is trying to do. That’s why PeaceUp is working to stop tar sands mining from ever beginning in the U.S.—and if you breathe air on the Wasatch Front, we’re calling on you to take action during this month of Wasatch Winter.
Watch footage from last year’s Chevron refinery blockade, and join us for an action-packed month of resilient resistance! It all starts with a nonviolent direct action training (NVDA) on Saturday, February 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 344 S. Goshen Street (1040 W—go inside the white fence). There’s no obligation to go to this training, but it’ll be a good primer to organizing actions safely and effectively, and a place to share ideas for different tactics.
Join us in this powerful month of action, and become part of a united front of community defenders standing up for our collective rights!
Join the following groups in a month of action for clean air:
Utah Tar Sands Resistance
Environmental Ministry, First Unitarian Church
Utah Moms for Clean Air
Communities for Clean Air
(email email@example.com to add your group!)