Congressman Chris Stewart faces heavy criticism over remarks about EPA

Posted at 9:24 PM, Sep 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-04 23:24:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Freshman Congressman Chris Stewart is facing criticism over remarks he made about the EPA; dozens of Utahns and environmental groups protested outside a town hall meeting he hosted in downtown's avenues Wednesday night.

Passionate people lined up outside the suite library, waiting for Stewart to show up, and, when he did, they stormed inside and demanded answers to their questions.

"We are his constituents; he should be fighting for our clean air and our clean water not for the EPA to lower its standards," said Ty Markham with MESA, which stands for Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance.

Richard Canner, a professor of medicine at the University of Utah who was also at the rally said,  "Even if he has his opinions and his beliefs, he is our representative, and as a representative he has to do what's good for us, not what's good for him but for us."

From Utah Moms for Clean Air to Physicians for a Healthy Environment, HEAL Utah and concerned citizens, the rally was organized after growing concerns over Stericycle, which is a medical waste facility in North Salt Lake. Residents think the incinerator should be shut down.

While residents of Foxboro showed up to protest for their cause, there was a much larger crowd there to confront the Congressman after his remarks about the Environmental Protection Agency.

Stewart said in an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune: "Before the administration creates a series of regulations that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, should it be open and honest with the American people?"

Congressman Stewart said, while he hosted a town hall meeting to hear his constituents out, he also wants to be clear that he's not attacking current air regulations.

"I've never said this is junk science; I've never made accusations against the EPA,” he said. “The only thing I've said is, 'You should show us the science before you impose these regulations.'"

Rep. Stewart said the regulations would cost the country $90 billion. When FOX 13 News asked him about Stericycle, the Congressman said, while he would never want to live near an incinerator, he wasn't comfortable opining about whether or not the medical waste facility should shut down its incinerator, as he believes it is a state issue rather than a federal one.