One moral issue on which I hope to see the Mormon Church take a stand is Utah’s air pollution. The air along the Wasatch Front is unhealthy to breathe for much of the winter because of small particle pollution—particles smaller than 2.5 microns.
Utah doctors, who estimate our air pollution causes 1,000 to 2,000 deaths in Utah each year, have formed a coalition, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, and have filed a lawsuit against Rio Tinto/Kennecott Copper, the largest polluter in the area.
Utah’s Division of Air Quality recently approved lifting a federal ban on air pollution limits in the state to allow RTK, which accounts for 30% of the air pollution in the area, to expand its operations. Board members of the DAQ are appointees. Five of the eleven represent industry. One doctor and one representative of an environmental group sit on the board. The remaining four members are elected or appointed government officials. Mining and other polluting industries make big donations to political campaigns of government officials. The payoff for their investment is state regulatory policies designed for the polluters’ benefit.
Sadly, too many Utahns see environmental issues as a political attempt to infringe upon constitutional rights. Since nearly 60% of Utahns, according to a recent poll, consider themselves Mormons, it would be helpful for the Church to take a public stand on the need for Utah to clean up the air along the Wasatch Front. Possibly Church influence is strong enough to encourage Utahns to demand elected officials represent them rather than moneyed interests.
Taking a stand for clean air is a natural for a church with a longstanding health code. What could be more moral than protecting the health of children—including the unborn?
Utahns should not quietly submit to filthy, disease-producing air that causes asthma and other respiratory diseases and contributes to cancer and heart disease. Church leadership could show Utah Mormons the need to exert influence upon state and local government to promote a healthy environment in which to live, work, and raise families.