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Idling Is Getting Us Nowhere Fast!

Idling is gets us nowhere fast!

Ten years ago, my niece came to my mountain home and announced her class was campaigning to stop the dirty old school buses from idling at her Morningside school.  She talked expertly about carbon footprints, asthma, and PM 2.5.  I was getting my first education on the dire effects of idling from a nine year old activist.  Over the last year, I would say I have become an Idle.   My college kids call me the Idle Free Fairy, passing out Idle Free stickers and knocking on idling car windows and asking, reminding, and sometimes retreating from annoyed drivers.

There is almost no reason to idle for while parking, there are exceptions, but there are even better solutions.  Each year American’s burn over 6 million gallons of gas going nowhere—they are simply idling.  Estimates in Utah say that ¼ of our emissions are a result of idling. If you can see something coming out of the tail pipe, its particulate matter and it’s dangerous, especially to developing lungs and vulnerable populations.PM2.5, the tiny particles you can’t often see, lodges in the lungs and crosses the blood barrier.

This month marks the 9th annual Idle Free in Utah Declaration signed by the governor and a record 50 Utah Mayors. This is historic and it show that Utah leaders do care about Utah’s air.  It is plain to  see the simply campaign started by Utah Clean ten years ago is sensible and improves bad air by individuals being aware of turning their key after ten seconds of parking.  Utah school bus drivers have been trained in Idle Free and have a 100% Idle Free busing policy.  This year two major school districts, Granite and Canyons, have declared their campuses 100% Idle Free.

Utah Clean Cities works with reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and conservation is one of the key educational tools for reducing consumption through driver awareness.  We encourage the 10 second rule when parked, especially at our schools.  School become hot spots for pollution and literally come face to face with toxic emissions outside and inside their schools.

Our current work with the University o f  Utah., Salt Lake County Health and a pilot group of schools will soon be getting an accurate measure of air pollution in and outside Wasatch Front schools.  We have to have a base measurement to begin our real work on improving our air. Science classes will scientifically collect, measure and decipher data.  They will become critical thinkers and informed citizenry.  The young people I speak with desperately want to be engaged and so something to save their world.  And they can.


Respectfully, the call to stop idling is urgent and everyone can do it.  Turn your own key and be Idle Free. Visit our website and see what your can do with your school to support Idle Free





Tammie Bostick-Cooper is the Northern Coordinator for Utah Clean Cities promoting alternative vehicles and clean air strategies like Idle Free. She believes there has never been a more compelling time to be involved with transportation, and to answer the urgent call to change our dependence on imported fossil fuels. There are no perfect fuels but there are practical solutions leading to them.

She grew up ranching and close to nature.  She graduated from the University of Utah and worked with children on the Ute Indian Reservation.  She raised two bright children in a small off-the-grid cabin in the high Uintah’s.  They all live in Salt Lake.  Alexia and Cole attend Westminster College where they continue to reflect on their childhood.