SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A powerful state board charged with cleaning Utah's air approved new emissions controls Wednesday that will affect Burger King and other hamburger joints that use conveyor-driven flame broilers to cook their beef.
The regulation is among dozens the Utah Air Quality Board is adopting to curb smog across the greater Salt Lake region, which is experiencing another severe pollution episode. It requires restaurants with chain-driven hamburger broilers to install emissions controls by September.
The board gave preliminary approval Wednesday to another set of rules that will limit emissions of aerosol-powered consumer products like hairspray, which will have to switch to environmentally friendly propellants. Those rules were put out for public comment.
"At the end of the day, we're trying to solve an air quality problem," said Stephen C. Sands II, chairman of the Utah Air Quality Board. "There are ways to reformulate consumer products that would help do that. It really is a lot of small changes that are going to have to occur. There's no silver bullet."
Yet another regulation that bans the sale of wood-burning boilers for home heating in urban areas of northern Utah was approved Wednesday over the objection of a Provo resident, who said it saves him $500 a month instead of using natural gas to heat a large house.
"It's saying you can burn with one appliance (a fireplace,) but not this appliance," said David Leavitt, who shuts down his outdoor boiler on bad-air days. Leavitt, a former Juab County prosecutor, is a brother of former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt.
A maker of wood-fired boilers said it was working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to perfect cleaner-burning stoves.
"We don't like the fact that somebody is telling us our products aren't good enough," said Chris Tureson of Central Boiler in Greenbush, Minn.
Utah regulators, meanwhile, were prohibiting all wood burning Wednesday and urging people to limit driving. Vehicle emissions account for more than half of the region's trapped pollutants, which smothered 2 million residents for much of January and made a return earlier this week.
The Utah Air Quality Board also rolled out for public comment a regulation that will limit the hydrocarbon content of industrial solvents, adhesives, sealants and primers.
Chain-drive hamburger broilers will have to install emissions controls no later than Sept. 1 under the rule adopted Wednesday. Regulators say the flame broilers are notorious for releasing smog-forming volatile organic compounds.
"They're smoking up the neighborhood," said Brian Moench, an anesthesiologist and president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, which is pushing regulators to adopt tough measures.
Burger King is Utah's only major restaurant chain that flame broils hamburgers, and singling it out for expensive emissions controls won't do much to clean the air, said Melva Sine, CEO of the Utah Restaurant Association.
A Burger King spokesman, Miguel Piedra, wasn't immediately aware of the looming regulation.
State officials and clean-air advocates say it will take hundreds of changes in people's lifestyles — and in commerce and industry — to meet federal air-quality standards, and that the effort will take years to show results.
"If it was an easy problem, it would have been solved a long time ago," said Kathy Van Dame, who represents the Wasatch Clean Air Coalition on the Utah Air Quality Board. "We're working on it to the best of our ability. The elephant in the room is the number of people in the Salt Lake valley — our lifestyle and the growing population. We just don't fit in our air shed."
Several hundred people gathered on the steps of the Utah Capitol on Wednesday to rally for clean air and call on Gov. Gary Herbert to address the problem. Some were wearing medical face masks on a day when soot counts were nearly double what the EPA considers safe. The crowd delivered an 8,000-name petition to the governor's office. Herbert was out of town.
The Air Quality Board already has adopted more than two dozen regulations for clean-air plans that were due to the EPA in December. State regulators said the plans weren't ready, and they are redoubling efforts to finish work in the next few months
People typically respond to the new regulations by saying "somebody else should do something," said Van Dame, who represents such groups as Utah Moms for Clean Air. "Everybody wants it to be somebody else."
Corporate officials for Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, leading manufacturers of personal care products, didn't immediately return calls Wednesday from The Associated Press on how they would reformulate their products to meet the new rules.