HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Federal clean air standards and state regulators' struggle to comply with them will likely require Hill Air Force Base and other major polluters across Utah to upgrade their emissions controls.
State air quality officials are under pressure to come up with a set of plans to clean up Northern Utah's air by the end of the year.
The Utah Air Quality Board has already released for public comment the first of three plans, which will require vehicle emission testing for the first time ever in Cache County.
Plans for other urban areas of Northern Utah remain incomplete because regulators say they haven't come up with enough ways to curb pollution.
They are searching for additional measures they can adopt, and now the focus is on industry -- although it produces only a fraction of urban pollution.
More than half of Utah's toxic air comes from tailpipe emissions that get trapped in mountain valleys, usually during the dead of winter.
The Air Quality Board gave staff scientists until no later than Oct. 1 to work up a plan for requiring new industrial emissions controls.
It could take two forms: Regulators could require major polluters to use off-the-shelf technology that's proven and readily available, or they could require polluters to use the most-advanced emissions controls, regardless of cost.
The regulators seem inclined to go with lesser technology, which is already a requirement of industries that are expanding or upgrading equipment. Under the new rules, it would become an immediate mandate for any source of 100 tons or more of emissions a year. That includes oil refineries, Hill and companies such as Nucor Steel and Kennecott Utah Copper Corp.
Col. Kathryn L. Kolbe, commander of the 75th Air Base Wing at Hill, said the base is aware of the pending issue and is prepared to make necessary changes.
In a statement released to the Standard-Examiner, she said: "Hill Air Force Base environmental representatives have been working with state regulators to make certain we are in full compliance with federal and state rules and regulations to ensure that the base's mission continues and impacts on air quality are minimized."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.