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Protesters stage ‘cough-in’ at Capitol

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Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-13 21:22:54-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Wednesday is the second time in a week protesters calling for an improvement in Utah's air quality came to the Utah State Capitol with a petition.

Wednesday's demonstration was much smaller than last week's, but the message was the same. They want something to be done about the state's air and they're hoping Governor Herbert is listening.

Dozens of protesters from groups like the Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Peaceful Uprising, Mormon Environmental Stewardship and Utah Moms for Clean Air filed into the governor's office to stage what they're calling a "cough-in."

"We've come this week to let the governor know this dirty business can't continue, that dirty energy is killing people," said Lionel Trepanier with the Utah Tar Sands Resistance.

The petition comes after last week's protest where hundreds flooded Herbert's office to deliver a petition asking for change.

"Last week there were a few hundred people that arrived outside to present the governor with a petition that had 7,000 signatures on it," said Rachel Carter, Peaceful Uprising. "No one in any leadership position came to do anything about it, even 30 seconds to come out and receive the petition on behalf of governor. So we've come back to let the governor know there is a real lack of leadership on this."

Wednesday's protesters didn't have a meeting; they came to the governor's office unannounced. Herbert was out visiting veterans for Valentine's Day.

Herbert made time to talk to the media on Tuesday about what the state is doing to improve air quality. He talked about how the industrial sector is cutting emissions, but the protesters don't think Herbert is being honest.

"The governor is misleading. These statements are false lies," Trepanier said. When asked if he has proof that the governor isn't telling the truth, he said, "The U.S. EPA puts out information called the TRI Database or Envirofacts and you can look up and you'll see that Salt Lake rates at the highest toxic pollution in the nation."

The governor's spokesperson says that the groups haven't tried to set up a meeting with the governor, but he has seen the petition, read the comments, and says he hears what they're saying.