The 16th Annual Governor’s Idle Free Declaration for Utah’s upcoming 2023-2024 Winter Season was enthusiastically announced. The Governor’s Declaration, bolstered by the steadfast support of Utah Mayors, representing more than 75% of the state’s population, marked a significant step towards cleaner air and reduced emissions. The highly anticipated event took place at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday, August 31, at 9:00 AM, where prominent leaders and advocates for the Idle Free cause converged to share their stories, efforts, and unwavering support for this exceptional campaign promoting clean air and zero emissions.
“We stand at the crossroads of the 16th year of Utah’s cherished Idle Free Campaign, ‘Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free,’ as we officially declare Utah’s Idle Free Month and the Winter Season for 2023-2024. Reflecting upon the past 15 years fills us with a sense of accomplishment. This initiative has spurred statewide idle-free policies and incited action at the level of school districts, cities, towns, counties, and even within Zion National Park. The tireless dedication of the Bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, Utah Idle Free fleets, and above all, the collective efforts of individuals, marked by a ten-second commitment to turn the key, has propelled us forward,” stated Tammie Bostick, Executive Director of Utah Clean Cities.
Distinguished speakers at the event included Tammie Bostick, Executive Director of Utah Clean Cities; Bryce Bird, Director of Utah Division of Air Quality; Kim Frost, Executive Director of Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR); Senator Lincoln Fillmore, Chief sponsor of S.C.R. 2 Concurrent Resolution Regarding the Environmental Impact of Vehicle Idling; and Jeff Silvestrini, Mayor of Millcreek, an Idle Free City.
“Today, I stand on behalf of the governor to reinforce our dedication to cleaner air. The 16th Annual Idle Free Declaration demonstrates how collective efforts, like the ‘Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free’ campaign, shape a cleaner future. Let’s continue moving forward, transforming simple actions into lasting impact.” Bryce Bird, Director, Utah Division of Air Quality. Bird read the 16th Annual Declaration for Idle Free Month and Season 2023-24.
During the 2023 legislative session, Utah Clean Cities and the Utah Clean Air Partnership rallied behind Senator Lincoln Fillmore’s mission.
“As stewards of our environment, we have a responsibility to address the impact of vehicle idling on our air quality and the planet,” encapsulates the essence of S.C.R. 2 – the Concurrent Resolution Regarding the Environmental Impact of Vehicle Idling, which Senator Fillmore spearheaded and Governor Cox signed. This resolution signifies our dedication to sustainability and a healthier future, resonating beyond our state’s borders. Together, we drive change for cleaner air and a greener tomorrow.
The “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free” initiative acknowledges cities across Utah that have formally embraced the Idle Free cause. Among them are Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper City, Holladay, Logan, Millcreek, Murray City, Park City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Sandy, South Jordan, Springdale, and Zion National Park.
“In Millcreek city, our commitment to cleaner air is unwavering. As we support the Idle Free movement through our own idle-free ordinance, remember that a simple act like ‘Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free’ propels us towards a future of fresher air and a more vibrant community.” – Mayor Silvestrini, Millcreek City
The scorching summer of 2023 unleashed record-breaking temperatures upon the entire state of Utah, accompanied by a surge of ground-level ozone exposure. This harmful pollutant, generated by the interaction between Nitric Oxide (NOx), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), heat, and sunlight, imperils respiratory health, akin to receiving a lung sunburn. Ozone and PM2.5 emissions from vehicles, along with the haze of wildfire smoke, continue to jeopardize the health of Utah communities, disproportionately affecting marginalized populations. Through simple actions such as “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free,” both individuals and fleets within the transportation sector can mitigate the adverse effects of air pollution. With the active involvement of local governments, businesses, fleets, and numerous Utah communities, the annual Idle Free reminder cements partnerships and sets higher standards in curbing unnecessary idling.
“We applaud the unwavering dedication of Utah communities as we celebrate the sixteenth year of ‘Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free.’ Each of us contributes to Utah’s air quality, and even small changes yield significant impacts on our air. Embracing an idle-free lifestyle, carpooling, and utilizing public transit collectively make breathing easier for every Utahan. Municipal leaders are diligently working to decrease emissions from our buildings and vehicles. We urge everyone to persist in their efforts to enhance our air quality!” encouraged Kim Frost, Executive Director of UCAIR.
Air quality remains a multifaceted challenge. Utah’s air pollution issues are compounded by distinctive local topography, high traffic volume, and dense population. While there’s no panacea for addressing air pollution challenges, focusing on transportation offers a pragmatic approach. Vehicle emissions account for roughly half of Utah’s air pollution, with needless idling contributing significantly to daily emissions in our air shed.
With over 80 Utah fleets committing annually to operate Idle Free, in partnership with Utah Clean Cities and the communities they serve, remarkable progress has been achieved. According to data from Utah Clean Cities’ 2022 annual report, the “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free” program curtailed more than 200,000 pounds of criteria pollutants in 2021 alone. Over the past year, the program collectively reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 13,942 tons, equivalent to 1,183,139 gallons of gasoline.
Imagine this: The fuel saved through the “Turn Your Key, Be Idle Free” program for a year could enable approximately 473,256 Utah residents to explore all five of our cherished national parks.