Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!
By Ardyn Ford, SLCgreen intern
Hunger. It is desperate and overpowering. Everyone has experienced it, but for some, it is extreme and long-term. Weeks go by with a deep, gnawing sensation inside, a pain so fierce that it almost feels alive.
This is a reality for more than 1 in 9 Utahns.
Food insecurity occurs when people cannot afford to buy enough food. It has significant impacts on productivity, happiness, and health, and because it impacts low-income families and individuals, it is often accompanied by threats to other basic needs such as shelter and clothing.
We’re in the final two weeks of Utah’s legislative session, which means we’re in for a wild ride full of twists, turns, and surprises until 11:59 pm on March 8.
SB 136: High Fees on Electric Vehicles and Transit Overhaul
SLCgreen and the Mayor’s Office are following many of the air quality-related bills. In particular, as we alerted you to recently, we are concerned about the high proposed registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles in SB0136 (though we support the funding mechanisms for more transit).
There have been a number of changes and attempted substitutions with this bill. Unfortunately, as of February 28, the fees for all-electric vehicles remain at $194/year. The fee structure also imposes changes for hybrid electric ($92/year) and plug-in hybrid vehicles ($124/year). Fees are going up on all vehicles. Standard gasoline vehicles will now pay $72/year.
However, the singling-out of clean vehicles is troubling. For those of us who care about clean air, the proposed EV fees are a significant set-back, especially coming the year after the state tax credit for electric vehicles was also rolled back.
Salt Lake City signed on to a coalition letter from Utah Clean Energy with other local governments and businesses opposing the fee. The bill has passed the Senate and now moves to the House. There’s still time to make your voice heard with your state representatives. Find your legislators here.
SB 218: Plastic Bags – Ban the Bans?
Do you drive an electric or hybrid vehicle? Do you breathe the air along the Wasatch Front?
If either of those are true, we encourage you to pay attention to the “Transportation Governance Amendments Bill (SB0136)” going through the state legislature.
It is rapidly making its way through the session and, as of February 13, will be heard by the full Senate in the coming days, followed by the House of Representatives.
Overall, we support the bill because of the many good things it would do for funding public transit and road improvements. You can read more via the Salt Lake Tribune.
However, the bill also proposes significant increases in the annual vehicle registration fees for all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, which are troubling.
We encourage you to learn about the bill and contact your elected officials if you’re concerned about the high fees proposed on electric vehicles– a stymie to clearing the air– even though the bill offers other positive changes.
For an all-electric vehicle, your annual registration fee would increase from $44 to $194.
For a hybrid, the fee would jump from $44 to $65. For all other vehicles, the fees remain at $44.
It is only electric vehicles that are being targeted for annual increases. Read more
We’re in the middle of Climate Week in Utah! Our events have been a great success so far and we are looking forward to the rest of the week’s activities.
Today we want to focus on what you can do to combat climate change. Of course, national and international policies make a huge difference in how many emissions global society ultimately cuts in the coming years.
But each of us can also play a role. Here’s how:
Calculate your carbon footprint
Measure your impact with this comprehensive carbon footprint calculator for individuals and households. It will show you how your consumption habits compare to national and global averages and give you suggestions on how to offset your carbon footprint. SLCgreen also has a handy list of household actions you can take to reduce your impact.
Knowledge is power
Misinformation on climate change is all-too-prevalent. Be informed. Check multiple sources focusing on articles which cite and list scientific studies. Here is a sample of some reputable sites, documentaries, and books:
Walk the talk
Transportation plays a big role in our carbon footprint. The western states have all been working to install more electric vehicle infrastructure, making it a viable and increasingly affordable option for Utahns. Consider an EV next time you are purchasing a car.
Don’t discount the big impact that walking, taking public transit (HIVE passes are great for this), or riding a Greenbike can have on your carbon footprint!
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and City Council have committed to a Joint Resolution to transition the community to 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2032 and an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2040.
The Mayor and City Councilmember Erin Mendenhall were joined by other City leaders and community members on the steps of the City and County Building today to announce the resolution.
“This is the most ambitious step ever taken by Salt Lake City to address the threat of climate change,” said Mayor Biskupski. “This commitment places the City among leading communities worldwide that acknowledge our responsibility to rapidly reduce emissions and forge a new path forward that protects our economies, societies and overall human well-being.”
Salt Lake City had previously committed to 100 percent renewable electricity sources for its government operations, along with major carbon reductions for City operations, but this resolution expands the scope to include all electricity and emissions on a community scale.
The Joint Resolution cited the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and being driven by the burning of fossil fuels. The Resolution also acknowledged local impacts such as changes in water systems and extreme weather events that are affecting Salt Lake City now and will be exacerbated in the future.
“We can tackle this challenge and deliver clean energy solutions that will simultaneously improve air quality, protect public health and deliver local jobs. Leading on climate change today is an obligation we all share with each other and to future generations,” stated Mayor Biskupski.
Visit www.slcgreen.com/climatepositive for more information about the plan.
See the full Carbon Reduction Joint Resolution here.
Today the American Lung Association released its 17th annual State of the Air report, which ranks the air quality in our nation’s cities and counties. Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem ranked 6th for short-term particulate exposure.
Mayor Biskupski has announced an aggressive air quality platform that aims to drastically reduce pollution through improving energy efficiency in buildings, increasing use of renewable energy like solar, sourcing cleaner vehicles, and creating a robust clean air network focused on advancing clean air legislation.
Join the City of Salt Lake and do your part to reduce pollution!
Take action even on voluntary air days. This is when we have the best chance to keep our air cleaner, longer – especially when we know that an inversion has set up in the valley.
Skip and reduce trips.
- Aim to leave your car parked, one more day a week. Modern vehicles emit the vast majority of trip pollution in those first two minutes on the road. Skipping car trips by using public transportation, arranging a carpool or other alternatives make a measurable impact.
- On days you must drive, chain your trips together to reduce “cold start” pollution.
Explore Salt Lake City on public transit. Ride UTA can help you plan your next transit adventure.
Commit to being idle free! This is one of the easiest things you can do to have a positive impact. Idling wastes gas and money and adds unnecessary pollution into our air. Plus when you idle, you’re exposing yourself and your passengers to higher levels of harmful pollutants.
Skip the fire! Burning wood, whether in your fireplace or fire pit, has a huge impact on our air quality. One fireplace can emit as much particulate pollution as 90 sport utility vehicles.
Get active. Biking is a great way to get some exercise and limit your impact on air quality. The Bicycle Collective shares some great tips in this UCAIR spotlight.
Take the Clear the Air Challenge! Find new ways to drive down your miles and measure your impact.
Increase the energy efficiency of your home.
- Weatherize your home, and cash in on Rocky Mountain Power and Questar Adding insulation and upgrading your windows will not only save you money on your utility bills, it will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
- Upgrade your furnace and water heater. Rebates are available for residents who upgrade their furnace and water heaters. Water heaters are a significant source of NOx emissions and that adds to Utah’s wintertime PM 2.5, problem.
- Swap out your lightbulbs to LEDs. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR rating, you can save $75 each year.
Opt for people powered or electric tools for yard work.
- Get exercise while doing yard work by using push mowers instead of gas powered lawn mowers. According to the U.S. EPA, a new gas lawn mower produces as many VOCs and NOx emissions in in in one hour as 11 new cars.
- Not able to use a push mower or manual tools? Look for electric alternatives to mowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers.
Install Solar! Installing solar on your home does not have to be overly complex or costly. Check out Solar Simplified and find out how to start the process. If you aren’t able to install rooftop solar, keep an eye out for Rocky Mountain Power’s Subscriber Solar program launching soon!
Citizens’ Climate Lobby hosted it’s 2016 Wild West Regional Conference in Salt Lake City this past weekend. The event was rich with information about legislation, advanced communication, climate science and more.
Highlights included a panel discussion on exerting political influence with panelists Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Patrice Arent, Member of the Utah State House of Representatives, and Robert Axson, Central State Director for Senator Mike Lee. Panelists emphasized the importance of building relationships across the political spectrum.
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby lead several informative and inspirational sessions focused around CCL’s mission to create the political will for climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in the exercise of personal and political power.
Another panel discussion titled Broadening our Reach to Under Represented Groups consisted of presentations by Piper Christian, high school student and COP21 attendee, on engaging young people on climate change, Nate Salazar on speaking to the Hispanic population, Dave Christian, Psychologist, on communicating with other political views, and Susan Soleil on Faith Communities and the Moral Imperative for Climate Justice. These panelists encouraged increasing diversity in political involvement by including young people, minorities, and people of faith.
The keynote presentation featured Dr. Rob Davies, physicist, Utah Climate Center, Utah State University speaking on ways to communicate about climate change that resonate with people’s emotions so that they feel motivated to take action. The conference also included an evening performance by The Crossroads Project. This multi-media presentation combined video, classical music by the Fry Street Quartet, and monologue by Rob Davies about climate change science.
To learn more about Citizens’ Climate Lobby, visit their webpage.
Panel on broadening reach to under-represented groups
The Crossroads Project
Mayor Biskuspki with Sustainability Director Vicki Bennet and Johanna Stangland
Mayor Biskupski visiting with conference attendees
Panel discussion on exerting political influence
Conference attendees visit during break