Cleaning Up Utah’s Air

Cleaning Up Utah's AirImproving our air quality is an issue that faces all of us in the Salt Lake Valley. Addressing our air quality problems is a top priority of mine and I am proud to have co-sponsored or voted in favor of each of the air quality bills that passed the legislature this year. Because of my strong air quality record, I received a 100% rating from the Physicians for a Healthy Environment after the 2014 legislative session.

I am a strong believer that the best solution to address our air quality problems along the Wasatch Front is for the government to use education and encouragement, rather than regulation and punishment.  We need solutions that educate everyone about the true causes of air pollution and encourage everyone to take action to address the problem.

For instance, many people are not aware that our air quality problems are caused by

  • 13% from industrial sources (point source)
  • 39% from homes, buildings, lawn mowers, snow blowers, etc. (area source)
  • 48% from trucks and automobiles (mobile source)

Another surprising statistic to many is that wood burning in homes is estimated to account for about 5-10 percent of our air quality problem by itself.  If we focus on giving citizens more information about carpooling, using public transit, telecommuting, buying more efficient cars, and not burning wood on red burn days, it will have a measurable impact on our air quality in Salt Lake.

Because of our focus over the past few years, we have been able to make good strides to address the air quality problem along the Wasatch Front.  In 2000, the Utah population was 2.2 million.  It is now just over 2.9 million.  That represents a roughly 32% growth over the last 14 years.  However, even with a 32% growth in our population, the air quality in Salt Lake is better than it was a few years ago.  Since 2002, total annual emissions in Salt Lake County declined from 409,000 tons to 217,000 tons.  Along the Wasatch Front, particulates have been reduced by 30-50 percent since the mid 1990s.

We need to create incentives and remove roadblocks that will encourage individuals and businesses to lessen their impact. This year I co-sponsored a bill with Rep Patrice Arent that removed government regulations that inhibit businesses from providing electric charging stations to their customers.

I will continue to focus on tackling this tough challenge because it is vital to our quality of life and to the health of everyone along the Wasatch Front.

Originally posted here. Reposted with permission. 

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