Idle Free conference stresses way to clean up Utah's air
WEST VALLEY CITY — The message to turn the key and be idle-free was delivered to multiple fleet managers during a Tuesday conference as the push to clean up the Wasatch Front's air continues to gain momentum.
Robin Erickson, executive director of Utah Clean Cities and a former fleet manager, told the crowd at the second annual Idle Free Fleets Conference to be unafraid to give gentle reminders to strangers if a vehicle is seen idling.
"If everyone idled just five minutes less a day, it would (eliminate) 1.6 million tons of particulate matter," Erickson said.
The all-day conference at the Hale Center Theatre included breakout sessions on government and municipalities, business and industry, as well as education.
Alan Matheson, Gov. Gary Herbert's environmental adviser, said the Wasatch Front meets the federal clean air standard 95 percent of the time, but the goal should be to meet that standard all the time.
"We are not where we where we need to be," he said.
Matheson noted a variety of steps being taken that are aimed at cleaning up the air, including:
- The passage of 26 new regulations on everything from degreasing operations to consumer products by the Utah Air Quality Board.
- New industrial controls that will reduce emissions by 2,000 tons at refineries and by 4,600 tons at other industries.
- Federal vehicle standards and transportation plans that will reduce vehicle emissions by half by 2019.
- A media campaign called "Let's Clear the Air" is slated to debut, funded by a $500,000 allocation from the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
- Herbert's budget request that includes $18 million in air quality-related spending
- Ted Wilson, director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership, said a key focus has to be to spread the word against idling and changing the notion that it is ever OK.
"What we do now is recruit Utahns to care about this to turn the key off," he said. "We have to own it, make it part of our lives."
Wilson said there needs to be a concerted campaign aimed at schools so parents realize idling in cars is a "cultural no-no" in drop-off zones.
That behavioral shift, coupled with refraining from lighting wood-burning stoves or fireplaces when the air is bad, are actions Wilson termed "low-hanging fruit," because they are simple steps all can embrace.
Wilson also noted that the newly formed Clean Air Action Team is sifting through 80 recommendations, trying to arrive at additional steps the state, public and business can take to reduce emissions.
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