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St. George air quality is clean; mayors aim to keep it that way, Clear the Air Challenge

St. George News
Joyce Kuzmanic 
August 6, 2012 

L to R: Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson, Hurricane City Mayor Tom Hirschi, Santa Clara City Mayor Rick Rosenberg, Ivins City Mayor Chris Hart, City of St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur, Director of Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Dr. David Blodgett; at podium, Robin Erickson, Executive Director, Utah Clean Cities Coalition, Press Conference for the Clear the Air Challenge, Red Hills Parkway, St. George, Utah, July 30, 2012 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

L to R: Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson, Hurricane City Mayor Tom Hirschi, Santa Clara City Mayor Rick Rosenberg, Ivins City Mayor Chris Hart, City of St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur, Director of Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Dr. David Blodgett; at podium, Robin Erickson, Executive Director, Utah Clean Cities Coalition, Press Conference for the Clear the Air Challenge, Red Hills Parkway, St. George, Utah, July 30, 2012 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Clean Cities Coalition issued a challenge to tackle the pressing issue of air pollution, calling for cleaner, more breathable air in Utah. And many mayors of Washington County rallied to the cause.

The challenge runs for the month of August and urges people and businesses to consider and modify their transportation habits for the benefit of the environment. It is predicated on the Coalition’s claim that over 50 percent of Utah’s air pollution comes from the use of motor vehicles; so driving cars less is what the Challenge is all about.

“The challenge gives everybody a chance to do a little bit more to make things a little bit brighter and a little bit bluer and a little bit greener in southern Utah,“ said Robin Erickson, executive director of the Coalition.

Mayors Ken Neilson of Washington City, Tom Hirschi of Hurricane City, Rick Rosenberg of Santa Clara City, Chris Hart of Ivins City and Daniel McArthur of the City of St. George, came together atop the Red Hills Parkway overlooking the St. George basin on July 30 to promote the “Clear the Air Challenge” for Washington County. Also joining them was Dr. David Blodgett, director of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

Air Quality in Southern Utah:

Although southern Utah has not risen to the level of air quality concern that northern Utah has, the hot and still summer air invites vehicle pollutants to become trapped in the St. George valley area in increasingly high concentrations.

Blodgett said:

Fortunately we still have air that qualifies under national standards as “clean” but if you make it into the non-attainment state, which a lot of northern Utah is now, then you’re part of the SIP (State Implementation Plans imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and then you have federal authorities coming in and telling you how to keep clean air rather than initiatives from within to keep the air clean ….”

Both Blodgett and McArthur noted air quality monitors, both having been placed and to be borrowed from northern Utah during their winter months. Blodgett said the monitors allow local authorities to identify sources of pollutants so that those areas can be addressed locally before levels rise such that the EPA becomes involved in directing action.

Blodgett also noted the impact air quality has on our lives. “It’s also a health problem,” he said, mentioning asthma, COPD, increases in hospitalizations from asthma, death rates from cardio vascular (issues), and the like as impacted by poor air quality. But, Blodgett said that from a health comparison standpoint, “we like to think of ourselves (in Southern Utah) as having clean air – but if you look at indicators of health, we’re probably about the same as other areas, and so we worry about that.”

The Challenge urges several areas of energy economy:

•  Driving less

•  Idling less

•  Combining errands into fewer car trips (linking errands)

•  Utilizing alternative means of transportation such as bicycling, walking

•  Public transit and carpooling

•  Teleworking (working from home or a hot spot that requires less driving, video conferencing instead of in-person meetings)

•  E-traveling (downloading a movie instead of going to the store for a rental, shopping online instead of visiting a local retailer)

Mayors share personal anecdotes and features of their cities’ efforts:

Neilsen and his wife are carpooling and Washington City converted almost half its fleet to natural gas, saving almost 70 percent on fuel costs. Hirschi joked about earning the title of Hurricane City Czar for his vigilance in discouraging vehicle idling. Rosenberg said his family was combining what used to be four trips to the store in a week into one, with a little planning and was encouraged that Santa Clara is now working with Ivins to place a Compressed Natural Gas station on the west side of town. Hart shared Rosenberg’s goal and said his goal was to convert all of Ivins’ public works and public safety vehicles to natural gas. McArthur walks miles daily with his wife, enjoying the bike and pedestrian paths that St. George has developed, and turns his car off while in the line for McDonalds or the bank; he pointed to the bus system established in St. George in part to reduce automobile emissions and urged parents to tell their kids to climb on the bus.

Emissions are a concern but those were surpassed by enthusiasm emitting from the city leaders, atop the red hill looking over a particularly clear St. George basin that morning. It was clear that everyone wants to keep Southern Utah clean. Excerpts of their speeches are provided here, along with those of Erickson and Blodgett, in our short video:

Participation in the challenge:

To sign up and participate in the challenge, register on the Clear the Air Challenge website.

During the Clear the Air Challenge, participants will log how many trips and miles of driving they have saved each week. The organizers hope that friends, family, businesses and co-workers will pit themselves against each other to achieve a competitive reward of greater emissions reduction for the community.

The goal:

The goal is to eliminate 300,000 trips, save 2 million miles, and reduce 1.7 million pounds of emissions. This challenge is open to all travelers throughout Utah with the hope that our communities will work together to help each other improve the air we breathe.

About Utah Clean Cities Coalition:

  Utah Clean Cities Coalition is one of the nearly 100 Coalitions that are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Initiative, working to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, develop regional economic opportunities, and improve air quality. As a non-profit organization, UCCC provides tools and resources for voluntary, community based programs to reduce consumption of petroleum-based fuels. Through its stakeholder partnerships, UCCC serves as a resource to promote and create alternative fuels, stations, and vehicles, image description as well as to promote clean strategies such as Idle Free Utah and the Clear the Air Challenge. UCCC has dual locations in Salt Lake City and St. George, which serve the entire state. For Video

© 2011 StGeorgeUtah.com

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Clear the air

The Spectrum - Opinion
July 31, 2012

While people have a wide range of political views and opinions on environmental issues, there is one topic on which most people can agree: We want clean air. Mayors of five Washington County cities gathered Monday to discuss the topic and to issue the “Clear the Air Challenge.”

 At its most basic level, the challenge is a push for residents to curb vehicle emissions and help keep the air clean. Make no mistake. There are health and political reasons associated with this initiative. 

 The health standpoint is most easily understood. According to a report from the American Lung Association, Salt Lake City has the seventh-worst air quality in the country. And while removed by hundreds of miles, Southern Utah also is at risk because of its growing population — albeit slower than it once was — and its disproportionately high number of children and older adults who are susceptible to health maladies associated with poor air conditions. 

 Politically, the mayors may be trying to stave off the imposition of federal restrictions if the Barack Obama administration moves forward with stricter air-quality standards. 

 Whether for health or politics, this initiative is a good idea because it puts a spotlight on what is, potentially, a growing problem. We use the word “potentially” because other than anecdotal evidence from seeing a haze, we really don’t know how big the problem is. 

 So far, area cities have little data to study because they have had use of only a single air monitor station for a few months to measure dust and other small particulates. St. George and Hurricane are looking into purchasing these machines. 

 By using them, the area will have a better idea of how much pollution drifts in from Southern California and Las Vegas and how much is actually generated here. 

 Residents can do their part by going to www.clearairchallenge.org and record their progress. Participants have the potential to win prizes, including bicycles. The efforts of many can make a huge difference in keeping our air clean and helping us stay healthy.

Copyright © 2012
www.thespectrum.com

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Local leaders commit to 'clearing the air'

The Spectrum
David DeMille
July 30, 2012

St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur speaks during a kickoff event in St. George on Monday, joining other area officials to promote the 'Clear the Air Challenge,' a statewide campaign to lower vehicle emissions and protect air quality.
Image courtesy of The Spectrum

St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur speaks during a kickoff event in St. George on Monday, joining other area officials to promote the 'Clear the Air Challenge,' a statewide campaign to lower vehicle emissions and protect air quality. ST. GEORGE — Some of Southern Utah’s highest officials are asking residents to help protect the area’s air quality by encouraging them to join a statewide campaign to cut vehicle emissions and vowing to fight pollution at the local government level.

 

 Mayors and other officials from Washington County’s five largest cities gathered Monday at a press conference in St. George to promote the “Clear the Air Challenge,” a statewide effort meant to curb emissions and keep the air clean. They urged residents to participate and voiced support for more attention to air quality through local initiatives. 

 Hurricane Mayor Tom Hirschi motioned across the landscape behind him while speaking, urging residents to consider the consequences of poor air quality. 

 “Isn’t that a beautiful sight?” he said. “Let’s do everything we can to keep Dixie clean.” 

 While northern Utah is known for its air quality issues — Salt Lake City ranked seventh-worst in the country in a recent report from the American Lung Association — Southern Utah is at risk as well, officials said, with proportionally high populations of young children and older adults susceptible to the health issues caused by poor air conditions. As the area grows, it will take a cumulative effort to keep the air clean, they argued. 

 “Just us mayors can’t do it. We need our constituents and everyone else in our cities to help out,” St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur said. 

 More information could help as well. Southern Utah has relatively little data to work with when it comes to air quality, having used a single air monitor only part of the year to measure dust and other small particulates. But St. George approved funding to purchase its own monitor earlier this year, and Hurricane is looking to put one near its city offices. 

The hope is to set up a monitor near the southwestern edge of St. George to measure how much contaminated air may be coming into the area from California, Las Vegas and other areas upwind, then be able to use another monitor to measure how that air changes as it moves through town, said Bill Swensen, air quality coordinator for St. George.

“That’s what it’s all about is being able to get some background numbers,” Swensen said, adding that Southern Utah is currently “somewhat in the dark” when it comes to PM2.5 particulates, the very small particles in the air that can cause serious health problems.

 Robin Erickson, director of Utah Clean Cities, said Southern Utah could have been at risk of federal intervention if President Barack Obama had gone ahead with plans to implement stricter air quality standards. She encouraged local leaders to continue their efforts to fight pollution, but added that residents would need to make some changes as well. 

 The Clear the Air Challenge asks residents to drive less, carpool, take public transportation or otherwise cut back on drive time, and record those efforts online at www.cleartheairchallenge.org. Participants track their progress from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31, and those who cut out the most emissions can win prizes, such as a new bicycle. 

 Since the challenge started in 2009, residents have reported saving 1,283,926 miles driven, according to the Clean Cities Coalition, eliminating 2,155,712 pounds of emissions, 58,354 gallons of gas and saving $721,566 in vehicle costs. 

 “We encourage everybody to change their habits, change their driving habits,” Erickson said. “Stay at home and work. Carpool together. Don’t go to the grocery store so much. Just think about different ways to reduce miles and reduce trips.”

Copyright © 2012
www.thespectrum.com

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Area leaders join state officials to help 'clear the air'

The Spectrum
David DeMille

What: Clear the Air Challenge kickoff event.
When: Today, 9 a.m.
Where: 540 Red Hills Pkwy. in St. George, across from the Washington County Water Conservancy District offices.

• For information on the Clear the Air Challenge, visit www.cleartheairchallenge.org.
• Learn strategies for how to cut back on emissions at www.travelwise.utah.gov.  ST. GEORGE — Area officials are joining a statewide effort to protect air quality, urging residents to drive less, plan more and think about ways to prevent pollution

Mayors across the state are joining Gov. Gary Herbert to promote the“Clear the Air Challenge,” with a kickoff event scheduled for Monday morning in St. George at 540 West Hills Pkwy., across from the Washington County Water Conservancy District offices. Mayors from five Washington County cities are scheduled to attend the event and encourage residents to join the challenge, which asks residents to cut back on driving and record their progress online.

“Small steps such as limiting our vehicle idling, biking, carpooling and riding the bus can lend a hand to improving and sustaining the air we breathe and the blue skies we all enjoy,” St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur said in a written statement urging residents to join the effort.

More than 50 percent of Utah’s air pollution comes from motor vehicles, according to the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, which is organizing the challenge.

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association reported that Utah was making strides with its air quality, but Salt Lake, Cache, Utah and Weber counties still all ranked in the top 25 in the country for the most short-term or fine particulate pollution. And while northern Utah is especially known for its air quality difficulties — Salt Lake City ranked seventh-worst in the country according to the lung association — Southern Utah is at risk as well, organizers said, with its high populations of young children and older adults particularly susceptible to health issues caused by poor air conditions.

“We need to do everything we can that’s sensible in order to protect our air and keep people healthy,” Hurricane Mayor Tom Hirschi said.

Now in its fourth year, the Clear the Air Challenge asks residents to drive less, carpool, take public transportation or otherwise cut back on their miles driven, then record their efforts online from Aug. 1 to 31. Residents who cut back the most on air pollution can win prizes, such as a new bicycle.

Since the challenge started in 2009, residents have reported saving 1,283,926 miles driven, according to the Clean Cities Coalition, eliminating 2,155,712 pounds of emissions, 58,354 gallons of gas and saving $721,566 in vehicle costs.

Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said the challenge offers residents a chance to see that by doing their small part, they can help affect bigger changes.

“I am excited that this event will bring our community together to improve our air quality and cut down emissions,” he said.

Copyright © 2012
www.thespectrum.com

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Governor Kicks Off Clean Air Challenge

KUTV
  Even though it's sunny outside, don't let that deceive you. The air may be more dirty than you think.

That's why the Governor and Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker kicked off the Clear The Air Challenge Saturday.

This is the fourth annual challenge, but officials said more needs to be done. In particular, with automobile emissions.

"There's no reason to idle longer than 30 seconds. And now there's a Salt Lake City ordinance,"  Gov. Herbert said.

Automobiles are the largest contributor to adding pollution in the air. According to a 2012 American Lung Association report, Salt Lake City ranks seventh worst in a 24-hour particle pollution test among 277 metropolitan areas.

The challenge is designed to motivate people to walk to libraries, grocery stores and use public transportation.

Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group

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Clear The Air Challenge reaches out to ‘blogger moms’  

The Salt Lake Tribune
Dana Ferguson
July 21 2012

Mothers sat holding up iPhones and small children Saturday morning at the Rocky Shores Theater of Hogle Zoo.

The bloggers gathered for the kickoff news conference for the fourth Clear The Air Challenge. The challenge encourages Utahns to "drive down your miles" and track their progress online from Aug. 1 to 31.

The monthlong event emerged in 2009 in an effort to improve Utah's air quality. Salt Lake City ranked seventh worst for 24-hour particle pollution out of 277 metropolitan areas, according to a 2012 American Lung Association report.

Mayor Ralph Becker said since the challenge began in 2009 Utahns have saved over 3.6 million vehicle miles and nearly 9,000 Utahns have participated. This year challenge leaders set a goal of eliminating 300,000 vehicle trips and 2 million miles on Utah roads.

Gov. Gary Herbert, Becker and Rachael Herrscher, CEO of Today's Mama, a blog for moms, addressed more than 50 self-proclaimed "blogger mamas" and their families Saturday morning, encouraging them to take part in the challenge and spread the word via social media.

In an effort to expand the scope of the annual challenge, Salt Lake City Director of Sustainability Vicki Bennett said she opted to make Utah bloggers the center of social media efforts.

"They know how to make this happen," Bennett said.

Herrscher encouraged bloggers Saturday, pointing out their influence. Utah leads the nation in social media use and boasts the highest number of blogs.

"We are the motherland of social media," Herrscher said. "With these numbers comes a lot of social influence."

Becker encouraged the crowd to limit driving and opt for other modes of transportation. He said his office would challenge any other office or team during the event.

"This is what I call healthy competition," Becker said.

Herrscher rallied moms to join her Today's Mama team and challenge Becker.

"We can totally take him," she said.

Herbert said that the challenge would not completely clear Utah's skies of smog, but by teaching children, the mothers could create a key step.

"I'm old enough to remember when people got into their cars and didn't fasten their seat belts." Looking out at the theater of blogger moms and their little ones, Herbert said, "I know you wouldn't even think about getting into a car today without a seat belt. Just like that, it's a matter of cultural change."

Salt Lake City mom Aimee Swenson, creator of the blog tightwadinutah.com, said she was inspired by the press conference and acknowledged the challenges she faces raising a child in the polluted air.

"It's sort of a double-edged sword," Swenson said. "You don't want to take your kids out for a walk in the winter because you don't want to walk in it [the smog], but if you drive you're adding to it."

Just up a ridge from the theater, children of all ages sat at a shaded table near the Primate Building at Hogle Zoo, coloring pictures of what clean air means to them.

Eleven-year-old Alex Barten, of West Bountiful, colored a bright blue sky and golden sidewalks. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead as he said, "Dirty air is gross because it causes heat and heat is evil."

Just to the right of Alex sat 12-year-old Braden Platt. His mother, Susan, stood looking over his shoulder.

Their family made the trip to the zoo from Huntsville. Platt said she could detect the poorer air quality in Salt Lake City. "You can smell it and taste it," Platt said.

"It's just different," Braden added.

"We need a snowball to start to really roll here," said Bennett, the city's sustainability director. "And I think today was really the beginning of a snowball."

Utahns can sign up for the challenge and record progress at CleartheAirChallenge.org.

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Utahns challenged to ‘clear the air’

KSTU
Brittany Green-Miner and Kelly Chapman

July 21, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – Governor Herbert kicked off the Clear the Air Challenge Saturday in hopes of encouraging Utahns to take better care of the air we breathe.

Governor Gary Herbert and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker were at Utah’s Hogle Zoo to announce the fourth annual Clear the Air Challenge.

“It’s not just a quality of life issue which is certainly at the forefront, it’s a health issue, it’s an economic development issue. It’s something all of us need to be concerned about,” said Herbert. “We all want clean air and water so we have responsibility and opportunity to contribute to the clean of our air and protection of our environment.”

Since the program started in 2009, the city has reduced miles traveled by more than 36 million by making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, Becker said.

The governor encourages residents to use mass transportation more, start walking or biking and combine short trips. The simple changes not only improve Utah’s air, but can also be a big money-saver.

“You can help yourself and your pocketbook and maybe your kids’ health and our air pollution,” said Becker.

The challenge is open to anyone. To participate, residents must register online and keep track of how they’re reducing emissions.

For more on the challenge, visit cleartheairchallenge.org. 

Copyright © 2012, KSTU

 VIDEO

Clear the Air Challenge 2012

ABC 4 News
Kimberly Nelson
July 21, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Aside from what it costs to fill up your tank these days, those extra miles you're putting on your car have a dangerous impact on the environment. that's why leaders across the state are asking every Utahan to take a personal approach to cleaning the air.

Gov. Gary Herbert said, "We ourselves as individuals need to look to ourselves to change the culture, particularly when we find out more than half of the air pollutants come from our automobiles."

The Clear the Air Challenge is designed to highlight the alternatives to driving. Taking your bike to work, walking to the grocery store and planning your errands so that you don't travel unnecessarily can make a big difference.

Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett said, "It has really gotten to the point where every single one of us has to make some sort of an effort to make some changes."

Cagney Smullin has joined the challenge with her co-workers at Hogal Zoo. She says even though she has a hybrid vehicle she's vowing to drive it less. "I try to have my lunch here so I’m not going out,” said Smullin. “I also try to make any stops that i need to do on the way home so I’m not making extra steps."

By making these small changes, since the challenge began in 2009, Utahans have saved over 3.6 million vehicle miles. This year they're hoping to grow that number and get more Utahans involved with cleaning up the air.

"If we all do a little we're going to save a lot of pollution and clean up the air,” said Gov. Herbert.

If you would like more information, or if you would like to join the challenge, log on to http://cleartheairchallenge.org/ 
Copyright 2012 Newport Television LLC
VIDEO

Clear the Air Challenge Kick-Off

Join the Utah's Hogle Zoo to celebrate clean air and kick-off the 2012 Clear the Air Challenge. Stop by the Clear the Air Challenge booth from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn more about clean air and how you can make a difference. Register your family for the Challenge on-the-spot. Have your little ones participate in our 'What does clean air mean to me?' coloring contest. More information and Clear the Air Challenge registration available at Clear the Air.

Date: Jul 21, 2012
Time: 10 am
Phone: 801-582-1631
Address: 2600 Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City, 84108
Where: Hogle Zoo

(c) City Weekly

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