Utahns encouraged to be idle free

by Becky GINOS

SALT LAKE CITY—Utah is famous for its inversions and with winter fast approaching the push is on to go “idle free.”

Last week, the Lt. Governor, representatives from Utah Clean Cities, the legislature and others came together to kick off the 12th Annual Governor’s Declaration for Idle Free in Utah September 2019 and the 2019-2020 winter season.

“As I talk to people from around our state, one of the most frequently discussed issues of concern I hear about is our air quality,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. “These individuals want to help but often feel overwhelmed, or are simply unaware of what they can do. Being idle-free is an easy and effective way we can all help to clean up our air. I am grateful for the strides made by the Idle Free campaign and for their continued efforts to empower everyone to do their part for a healthier environment.”

The grass roots program started when a school classroom was watching a bus idling outside, said Executive Director of Utah Clean Cities Tammie Bostick. “They started a campaign to work with fleets and get the dirty diesels off the road. Bus drivers are trained now not to idle anywhere. That’s a huge win for the air shed.”

Pollution levels are four times higher at school drop offs and pick ups, she said. “Imagine a child in their school parking lot waiting for a bus or to be picked up. Dozens and dozens of vehicles are running their engines creating what we call a hotspot,” said Bostick. “These children are waiting in this emission-filled air and their developing lungs are struggling to breathe. Fact is, idling en mass at the school drop off and pick up zones creates toxic air hotspots just like the one described, on green air days and even worse, it’s multiplied exponentially in the poor air quality days.”

Vehicle exhaust makes up about half of the air pollution in Utah and the particulate matter emitted by idling can cause serious health problems.
Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, has advocated for clean transportation for a long time in the legislature and serves on the Utah Clean Cities Board of Directors. “Speaking from a personal standpoint, the Anti-Idling Campaign has directed me to change my habits as I’ve come to understand the harmful effects of transportation pollution,” he said. “I just never idle, not at the bank and not at the fast-food drive-up. It’s just a good practice and I’m hoping that more Utahns will get in the swing of things. We really can make a difference together.”

“We at Utah Clean Cities have had a long-term relationship with Davis County over the years,” said Bostick. “The commitment to have Idle Free school zones and businesses has been ongoing and we have seen progress in our educational outreach. Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free really is an awareness campaign for everyone who cares about clean air and a common sense habit that we are asking citizens to commit to.”

The Idle Free Education program has grown over the past 12 years. “We’ve seen a change but there’s work to do,” she said. “Just like we are not allowed to throw out trash wherever we stop, we shouldn’t be allowed to pollute the air without a second thought. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released. It all adds up. Children have the right we all have the right, to have clean air to breathe. It’s not really a personal choice when it affects so many.”

Officials Announce Utah’s 12th Idle Free Season, Hoping Drivers Will Think About Changing Habits

For the past 12 years, officials in Utah have dubbed September the start of idle free season, an annual reminder for residents to turn off their cars. On Monday, the tradition continued as Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, along with other state and local leaders and the non-profit Utah Clean Cities, made this year’s announcement at a press conference at the Capitol.

“It’s so important that we recognize that this is not a partisan issue, that this is a health issue, it’s an economic issue,” Cox said. “This is good for everyone. Whatever it is you believe in, this should be part of that.”

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox on Monday announced the official start of the idle-free season. He says air quality is one of the issues he hears about most.

Utah Clean Cities helped launch the campaign after students and their parents raised concerns about cars huddled around drop-off and pick-up zones at elementary schools. Since then it’s gone nationwide. States like California, New York, and Texas have all passed anti-idling laws.

It’s a particular concern in Utah, which was ranked second to last in the nation for urban air quality, according to a U.S. News and World Report list published earlier this summer. But how big of an impact the campaign is making in reducing emissions remains unclear. Salt Lake City Sustainability Deputy Director Debbie Lyons says one reason for that is because the effects of idling are hard to single out.

“When we’re dealing with air quality issues, it’s a very complex situation,” Lyons said. “There’s a lot of chemistry that goes on and there are a lot of sources that we look at. And so to pinpoint one action from one source is really hard.”

Officials say they focus on idling because of how easy it is for people to stop. It’s something everyone can do.

Still, to further persuade people, there are laws in place. Idling is illegal in 10 Utah cities. The details vary, but most ban drivers from running their engines for more than one to two minutes and allow at least one warning before any punishment is doled out. There are also numerous exemptions in place. Police are free to idle, for example, as is anyone waiting in a car in extreme heat or cold.

Park City passed the first anti-idling ordinance in the state, with Salt Lake City following behind in 2011. As the rule stands now, drivers get three warnings before they’re given a citation, which is similar to a parking ticket and enforced by parking compliance officers.

Since the ordinance was enacted, nine citations have been issued, along with 74 warnings.

Officials say the tickets aren’t the point, but rather the efforts are geared towards awareness.

“This is not meant to be punitive,” said State Rep. Suzanne Harrison (D-Draper), who co-chairs the bi-partisan Clean Air Caucus. “It really needs to be something that everyone is getting educated about [with respect to] their own contribution to air pollution.“

Lyons is hopeful the outreach is working. She says that in her own experience, the efforts have at least made people more aware of their driving habits, even if it’s not totally clear what the low number of citations and warnings says about the extent of idling overall. Whether that means drivers aren’t idling very much or they simply aren’t getting caught, Lyons thinks it’s a good sign.

“It takes a lot to get that citation, so to me it looks like it’s willful action,” she said, especially since most warnings were for first-time offenders.

Lyons says that with environmental issues, often the biggest challenge is finding ways to get people to change their behaviors and, frankly, they don’t have proof that is happening. She says that a lot more research would be needed to see if and how the campaign has influenced people.

One thing she has seen is that if you can make a personal connection to the issue, like improving air quality at your kids’ school, chances are better it will move the needle.

‘Turn your key, be idle free,’ Utah leaders say in kicking off idle-free season

By Kim Bojorquez, KSL | Posted – Sep 17th, 2019 @ 7:01am

SALT LAKE CITY — It took a group of fifth graders in Utah expressing their concerns to school administrators about the fumes they were breathing from bus fleets to help spark Utah’s idle-free movement.

Since then, the movement has grown into an avid advocacy program and a campaign called “Idle Free Utah,” said Tammie Bostick, Utah Clean Cities Coalition executive director, at the 12th annual Governor Declaration for Idle Free in Utah at the state Capitol Monday.

The campaign eventually drew the support of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and this September marks the 12th anniversary of his idle-free declaration, which has been signed by 72 Utah mayors. During Monday’s declaration, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, in Herbert’s absence, declared the month and the 2019-20 winter season as idle-free.

Additionally, 10 Utah cities have idle-free ordinances or resolutions in place, and four school districts including Salt Lake City, Park City, Canyons and Granite, have committed to idle-free campuses.

Whether people are at school waiting to pick up their children or sitting at a drive-thru line, Bostick said drivers should be cognizant of idling their vehicles.

“We all know that idling emits dangerous particulate matter. And they are particularly of concern to us at our schools,” Bostick said.

Bostick said half of Utah’s emissions come from vehicles, and half of those come from fleet vehicles. She said her organization works to educate the community about the economic and environmental benefits of using clean fuels and vehicles.

Draper resident Erika Doty first became concerned with air quality when her children’s asthma symptoms worsened during the winter months.

“As a mom, I was curious and dove into the research and started to learn about emissions and what was in our air,” she said.

Doty said her research and advocacy led to organizing an idle-free week at her child’s elementary school, which caught the attention of Draper City Council members. After engaging with her community and educating the city’s local leaders, Draper became the most recent city to pass an idle-free resolution this summer.

“Once folks are educated and they understand the issue and the data that’s behind it, they support it,” Doty said.

Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, said everyone can do their part to “clean up the air and be idle free,” and little changes like turning a car off can lead to making a big difference.

“It is a threat to our health, our economy and the kind of future that we want here in Utah,” she said.

Harrison, who is a practicing anesthesiologist, said air pollution increases a person’s risk of lung and heart disease, cancer, strokes, autism and pregnancy complications like preterm births.

“Our air pollution hurts my patients, it hurts our families and it significantly impacts our kids, whose bodies and lungs are still developing,” Harrison said.

Harrison said people like Doty “illustrate the fact that citizens can make a difference in their community.”

“They saw a need, they got involved, they researched, they organized, they rallied, they had an impact in our community and kudos to them,” she said.

Schools, particularly pick-up and drop-off areas, are “hot pockets” for air pollution. Children are especially vulnerable to bad air quality as they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults, she said.

Family medicine and sports medicine physician Liz Joy, of Intermountain Healthcare, said her interest in air quality stems from her move to Utah from Minnesota and learning about Utah’s winter inversions. As a promoter of outdoor physical activity, she focused her efforts on air quality and health.

“We know that our air quality is getting better here in Utah, but we have a ways to go,” Joy said. “We have to make sure that people are informed so they can act to protect the health of themselves and their loved ones.”

Joy, who is part of a team that educates health providers and patients about air quality and health, said tailpipe emissions contribute “significantly” to poor air quality.

For the past 10 to 20 years, Cox said it’s been interesting to watch the debate on how to keep Utah’s air clean.

“It’s so important that we recognize that this is not a partisan issue. This is a health issue,” he said. “This is good for everyone.”

Cox said he is grateful for children who are helping to change their parents’ habits.

“When kids are telling their parents to stop idling, parents start to listen, and those bad habits go away,” he said.

Utah clean air advocates say Trump’s plan to weaken pollution standards is ‘unthinkable’

Photo: (Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Southbound traffic on I-15 approaching Pleasant Grove on Wednesday Aug. 28, 2019.

 · Published: August 28
Updated: August 29, 2019

A bipartisan pair of Utah lawmakers on Wednesday decried a Trump administration proposal to weaken the nation’s car-emissions standards, a change the two said their inversion-plagued state can ill afford.

Utah Reps. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, and Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, called on the state’s congressional leaders — specifically Sen. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams — to oppose rolling back the pollution rules and to fight for polices that will enhance air quality.

“I have had patients who have beaten radiation and chemotherapy and even beaten cancer, but they can’t beat our air pollution,” Harrison, a physician, said during the Capitol news conference.

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association ranked Salt Lake City the nation’s 14th most polluted city for ozone; Harrison said the state’s poor air quality has forced some of her patients to stay indoors and others to leave Utah altogether.

Trump’s move to relax the Obama-era fuel efficiency standards would threaten the progress Utah has made on tailpipe emissions and potentially hinder economic development related to clean-car technology, said Harrison and Handy, co-chairs of the Clean Air Caucus.

Vehicle exhaust accounts for about half the Wasatch Front’s air pollution, sickening and even killing Utah residents, research suggests.

Handy said the state has been hard at work to address the problem by bringing cleaner Tier 3 fuel to Utah’s gas stations. Gov. Gary Herbert has called on local refiners to speed up adoption of the new standards, and the Legislature has approved spending more than $2 million in tax breaks to spur the conversion.

“We want cleaner cars. We want alternative vehicles. … We need to be driving less,” Handy said. “And we all need to be smarter about the technologies that we use to keep our air clean.”

Ben Abbott, an assistant professor of ecosystem ecology at Brigham Young University, said a recent study showed that air pollution kills more people than smoking. And while people pay special attention to “sensitive groups” particularly impacted by poor quality, everyone is affected at some level, he said.

“Any exposure to air pollution degrades our health,” he warned.

The risks associated with bad air range from the obvious — breathing problems — to nervous and reproductive system issues and depression, Abbott said.

Vehicle manufactures have listened to these air quality concerns and shown a commitment to reducing emissions in accordance with the Obama administration’s standards, said Tammie Bostick, executive director of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition.

“To propose a rollback of emissions standards is simply unthinkable and hopefully impossible at this point,” Bostick said.

The existing fuel efficiency standards will save the average Utah household $3,050 in gas costs by 2030, money that would be plowed back into the local economy to create an estimated 4,700 new jobs, the Union of Concerned Scientists has predicted.

While the oil industry supports Trump’s rollback plan, automakers have said it goes too far. Four car manufacturers — Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — earlier this year sided against Trump and entered into a pact with California to adhere to rules only slightly less restrictive than the Obama standards. Blindsided by the deal, the White House this month was scrambling to prevent more defections by car manufacturers, who are concerned that different fuel efficiency standards would bifurcate the auto market, The New York Times reported.

In response to the morning news conference, Romney’s office sent a statement.

“I support greater efficiency standards in cars, trucks, and factories to reduce energy consumption and pollution,” the senator said in the statement. “I support the utilization of all our energy resources including gas, coal, wind, nuclear, geothermal, hydro, and solar.”

When asked for a comment, McAdams’ spokeswoman referred to a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed penned in April 2018 by the Democratic congressman supporting Obama’s fuel efficiency standards and calling on former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to abandon the proposed rollback.

“At a time when we’ve made great bipartisan progress, with all levels of local, state and federal government working cooperatively towards our clean air goals, we urge Pruitt to reconsider his position,” McAdams, who was Salt Lake County’s mayor at the time, wrote with several council members and city mayors. “Utahns’ health, our economy and our environment are at stake.”

Coalition opposes proposal to rollback clean air standards for vehicles

POSTED 12:25 PM, AUGUST 28, 2019, BY UPDATED AT 12:42PM, AUGUST 28, 2019


SALT LAKE CITY — Several local leaders spoke at the Utah State Capitol Wednesday, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to not go through with the proposed rollback of America’s clean car standards.

State Representative Stephen Handy, R-Layton, Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, Tammie Bostick of Utah Clean Cities Coalition and Assistant Professor Ben Abbott of Brigham Young University spoke at the event.

All are hoping to encourage Senator Mitt Romney and Representative Ben McAdams to continue supporting clean air initiatives.

State Representative Steve Handy said the EPA has proposed a rollback that would reduce the clean fuel car standards.

“We know that 50 percent of our emissions problems or pollution problems come from tailpipes, so it would be really important to have high standards,” Handy said.

He also said it’s important for the state of Utah to direct its own environment and not for Washington to dictate what we do, saying one standard doesn’t fit every state.

“Give states, allow states the flexibility, and particularly in Utah where we’re moving to tier three gasoline hopefully next year, this isn’t the time to be messing with car standards,” Handy said.

Tammie Bostick with the Utah Clean Cities Coalition says most of our manufacturers have committed to moving forward with the clean car standard and moving that back would be in opposition to where we are as a country.

“I really think that the pushback is going to be very strong, and we strongly support keeping the clean car standard in place and moving forward with it,” Bostick said.

The Utah Clean Cities Coalition said the clean car standards that were put in place in 2012 have been highly successful in protecting the health of families while also saving money at the pump – and they hope the EPA will continue going in that direction.

Lawmakers, scientists ask president not to rollback emissions standards

Scientists and Utah lawmakers are demanding President Trump keep the current vehicle fuel efficiency standards he may roll back. Photo: Kelli Pierce

SALT LAKE CITY — A bipartisan group of Utah lawmakers joined scientists at the Utah State Capitol to urge President Trump to keep current federal vehicle emissions standards.

Environmental Protection Agency rules require all new cars and trucks sold in the United States to get 54.5 miles to the gallon by 2025.

Some car companies and consumer groups have opposed the mandates. They argue it will make cars too expensive or less safe, as manufacturers are forced to use lighter or more costly materials.

But 50% of the state’s air pollution comes from cars and truck fleets, and that worried participants at today’s event like Tammie Bostick with Utah Clean Cities.

“It’s so important that we have low emissions at the tailpipe. Without that, our air quality as our economy grows, as our population grows, it’s just going to be a multiplier effect,” Bostick says.

Others, like Layton Republican Representative Steve Handy, think the federal government is overstepping its authority by telling Utah what to do.

“We get that air moves around. But we are emitting our own air pollution here in the state of Utah. Don’t take away our authority to regulate ourselves,” Handy says.

It’s unclear how far car emissions standards could be rolled back

A federal rollback of clean car standards? Why some Utah leaders say no

Tougher standards would cut pollution, save lives

Haze hangs over the Salt Lake Valley on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.
Haze hangs over the Salt Lake Valley on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.
 Kristin Murphy

SALT LAKE CITY — Two of the leaders of the Utah Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus said the Trump administration’s plan to roll back clean car standards set under the previous administration will be costly for Utah households on three fronts: more unhealthy air pollution, less savings at the pump and job losses.

In a press conference Wednesday at the state Capitol, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, and Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, called on Utah’s congressional delegation and other elected leaders to urge retention of the toughest fuel economy standards in U.S. history.

“It is the wrong direction for Utah,” according to Harrison, who as a practicing anesthesiologist said she has had to cancel procedures due to a patient’s unhealthy status because of asthma complications.

While she has seen patients who have beat radiation, chemotherapy and even cancer, she’s seen those who “can’t beat air pollution.”

Both Harrison and Handy were joined by Ben Abbott, an assistant professor of ecosystem ecology at Brigham Young University, and Tammie Bostick, executive director of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, in a plea to keep the standards in place.

The 2012 rule finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tightens emissions standards by 3.5% each year into 2025 and sets a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon in passenger fuel economy standards by 2025.

Not all vehicles would have to meet that fuel efficiency standard. Instead, automobile manufacturers could sell under performing cars and make up for that with models that outperform that standard.

The EPA is now proposing to freeze the fuel efficiency standard at 2020 levels in a submission it made to the White House in August, keeping it at 37 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks for models 2021 through 2026.

In a revision most likely to provoke a lawsuit from California and other opponents, the Trump administration also wants to strip that state’s ability to set its own standards.

The EPA, in an analysis by Car and Driver, conceded its revised proposal would result in a 5% increase in carbon dioxide emissions through 2026 and 9% increase in carbon dioxide emissions through 2035, but just a 1% increase in smog-forming emissions during the same time period.

Ben Abbott, assistant professor of ecosystem ecology at BYU, speaks during a press conference in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rollback of America’s clean car standards at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.
Ben Abbott, assistant professor of ecosystem ecology at BYU, speaks during a press conference in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rollback of America’s clean car standards at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.
 Kristin Murphy

Abbott said there is “no safe level” of pollution, pointing to recent research that shows air pollution in Utah results in more deaths than vehicle accidents.

While there are smog alerts for “sensitive” groups, Abbott insisted when it comes to pollution, “there is no such thing as an insensitive group.”

Bostick said to roll back the Obama standards is “unthinkable” especially for a state like Utah that has invested millions in clean air technology and research to curb its problem.

She added the Obama-era standards would have pumped an additional 4,700 jobs into Utah through advancements in automotive technology and other related industries.

The Trump administration said rolling back the clean car standard would save money for consumers and the industry, but 17 automobile manufacturers urged the administration to rethink its position and settle on something more “in the middle” between the two proposals.

Twelfth Annual Governor’s Idle Free Declaration

September 13th, 2019

Twelfth Annual Governor’s Idle Free Declaration

September marks the 12th Annual Governor Declaration for Idle Free in Utah September 2019 and the 2019-2020 Winter Season in Utah. The Governor’s Declaration is currently signed by 72 Utah Mayors who represent more than ¾ of the state’s population. The highly anticipated event will be held on Monday, September 16 at 11:00 am to twelve noon at the Utah State Capitol south steps. The declaration will highlight the milestones led by the State Board of Education with idle-free bus policies and recognizes the first, and the newest, Utah cities to be idle free.

To date, the cities of Park City, Salt Lake City, Alta, Holladay, Logan, Cottonwood Heights, Murray, Springdale, Sandy and Draper City all have Idle Free City Ordinances. Other significant successes will be celebrated across the state with local Idle Free campaigns that will be a companion to the exciting autumnal ritual and the “return to school.” Utah schools annually renew and launch their friendly reminders at drop-off and pick-up zones “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free.” Please, we are breathing here. Local government entities, businesses, fleets, and many Utah communities will be in partnership with this annual reminder to stop unnecessary idling.

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