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Sustainability Highlights from Mayor Biskupski’s State of the City Address

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On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, Mayor Jackie Biskupski delivered her first State of the City Address, which featured many important sustainability initiatives. Here are some of the the highlights:

As I have said before, there is nothing more important than the air we breathe. And working to clear our skies is a top priority of my administration.

At the city level, I will begin by taking steps to create a new Department of Sustainability with air quality as its primary goal.

This elevation from a division to a department, Sustainability on equal footing–both real and perceived–with every other function of city government. Vicki Bennett, who currently runs the Division of Sustainability will be a core member of my cabinet and have the full backing of this office to grow and implement programs and policies across Salt Lake City.

Today, there is proposed state legislation that would update Utah’s building codes. This is a first critical step in helping to reduce the second highest contributor to air pollution, our homes and buildings. These codes have not been updated in years. Failure to act this session will allow the cause of up to 30% of our air pollution to go unchecked for years.

Our policy team, led by our Deputy Chief of Staff, David Litvack and Lynn Pace, will lead the lobbying effort to secure support from our state legislators to take this simple action this year. And I will continue to reach out to my fellow elected officials, business and industry to join us in this effort. Our poor air quality is a health crisis and will become a major impediment in Utah’s economy if we do not work collaboratively to make a real difference today.

We have another key opportunity before us with the contract we negotiate every 20 years with an energy provider for this city. This agreement is up for renewal this month. I understand the negotiations were slowed due to the election and both parties were waiting to proceed in the direction of a new administration.

Let me be clear, I stand shoulder to shoulder with the previous administration. Salt Lake City’s request for a commitment from our energy provider to increase the use of renewable energy is achievable and sound policy to combat the effects of climate change.

We have set a goal–in line with the values of city residents — to have at least 50% of our municipal energy needs met by renewables such as solar, wind, and geothermal sources by 2020. And I commit to go further. Salt Lake City will join our neighbors in Park City and pledge to make our city’s utility sources carbon free by 2032.

We are all in this together and we will work with our energy provider to find ways to achieve these goals.

And being in this together means, we all must do our part.

I’m a working mom, I get it, sometimes what we are being asked to do simply won’t work with the demands of our lives. But, for the sake of our children, we can drive in a cold car for 5 minutes rather than let it warm up in our driveways.

We have a current ordinance requiring drivers to limit idling to 2 minutes. Frankly, if you’re parked, you shouldn’t be idling at all. Last month the police department discovered 600 unattended, idling vehicles in one 2.5 hour span. These vehicles were spewing pollution into our skies, not to mention putting children, who were left inside of them, at great risk of kidnapping and every vehicle at risk of theft.

To read the full text of the address, visit the Mayor’s website.

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