"Data Battles Muddle Solutions for Cleaner Utah Air"

"War has erupted between clean-air activists and state leaders, with the battleground being the data driving decisions about Utah’s air quality."

"In a winter marked by weeks of frigid smog smothering northern Utah’s valleys and by more scratchy throats, stinging eyes and asthma attacks than anyone can count, the governor’s office uses the data to say industry is not the main cause of Utah’s winter pollution — day-to-day activities at home and on the road are.

On the opposing side, advocacy groups led by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment insist both industry and political leaders are misleading the public with data at the expense of public health.

'Whatever [conclusion] you want to come up with, you can, if you blend the right cocktail of numbers,' said Erin Mendenhall, outreach director for the health-advocacy group Breathe Utah.

A simple bar chart distributed to news media by Gov. Gary Herbert’s office Feb. 6 — similar to an analysis of data by The Salt Lake Tribune (see accompanying chart) — showed about 11 percent of pollution can be attributed to industry, while 57 percent can be pegged to vehicles and 32 percent on homes, small businesses, buildings and the other activities of day-to-day life."

Judy Fahys reports for the Salt Lake Tribune February 26, 2013.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, 02/26/2013