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Posts tagged ‘DEQ’

We've Got the December Bad Air Blues

The view from the SLCgreen office on Dec. 4, 2019.

With a week of air that has been some of the worst in the country, it’s no wonder we’re all feeling frustrated. Salt Lake City’s current air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and requires mandatory action of limited driving and no wood burning. For most of us, Salt Lake City’s notoriously bad air is a nuisance and health concern, limiting our activities and turning our skyline grey. Moreover, pollutants like PM 2.5 are dangerous, especially for older residents, children, pregnant women, and people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Air quality is a public health concern, as well as an economic one.

It may come as a surprise that although transportation currently contributes nearly half of the emissions causing Salt Lake City’s bad air, buildings are catching up. Indeed, houses and buildings currently contribute roughly 38% of emissions, and industry point sources produce the other 13%. As emissions standards on cars are becoming more strict, managing emissions from houses and buildings is a growing priority.

PM 2.5 is the primary winter concern in Salt Lake City’s airshed. The particulate matter poses serious health risks and gets trapped in the Salt Lake valley during inversion. Most of the PM 2.5 is a direct result of precursor emissions from tailpipes, smokestacks, and chemicals that mix to form PM 2.5 in the atmosphere.

When you look outside, it may feel like there’s no good news. However, per capita pollution in Utah is decreasing. Salt Lake City is taking steps to help clean the air and protect our public health and environment. Find out how you can keep our airshed (and lungs!) clean and healthy.

What is SLC doing?

Reducing combustion and emissions are a key step towards cleaning the air.

Salt Lake City has many air quality initiatives in place that are helping clean the air. Among these include the continued expansion of EV infrastructure, expanding cleaner vehicles in our fleet, and implementing our energy benchmarking ordinance for nearly 1,000 commercial buildings. Additionally, the HIVE pass provides residents with access to UTA’s public transit system at a reduced cost.

Salt Lake City built the nation’s first Net Zero energy Public Safety Building.
In 2018, Salt Lake City converted five parking enforcement vehicles to all-electric Chevy Bolts. As of Oct. 2019, the Salt Lake City fleet has over 135 hybrids, 32 all-electric vehicles, 72 compressed natural gas heavy duty vehicles, and 117 clean diesel heavy duty vehicles.

Read more

Recycling: This Earth Day, Let’s Get Back to Basics

It’s #EarthWeek in Salt Lake City! We’re excited to bring you a range of content to inspire action on behalf of our planet. As part of that, we were excited to contribute a blog post to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality about recycling. There have been some changes in the industry in the last year and it all reminds us to “get back to basics: reduce, reuse, and recycle right.” Read on!

Contamination Plastic Bags

Plastic bag “contamination” at a local recycling facility. Help us reduce, reuse, and recycle right!

by Sophia Nicholas, SLCgreen Communications Manager

Recycling is one of the most common sense practices to conserve resources and care for the Earth.

So this Earth Day—let’s get back to basics and take a deep dive on what’s going on with recycling these days and what you as an environmentally-conscious person should do to “recycle right.”

Did you know that most of the items you put in the recycling bin get sent to Asia to be processed into new material? Those water bottles get turned into fleece, cardboard into paper bags, and milk jugs into . . . new milk jugs.

A large majority of this material is processed in China.  Or, I should say, was.

You may have heard that China is no longer accepting the world’s waste as of January 2018. They were previously processing roughly half of the world’s plastic, metal, and paper recyclables. Their ban is part of an effort to clean up their environment and not become the home of “foreign garbage.” We applaud China’s strengthening of their environmental laws, policies, and procedures.

However, in the short term, the Chinese ban is causing recycling vendors and processors worldwide to search for new markets for some of the material China no longer wants. This includes lower-quality plastics and paper. China also doesn’t want “contamination”—which refers to non-recyclable items being mixed up with recyclable items, as well as dirty and unwashed recyclables.

READ MORE ON THE DEQ BLOG

Air Quality Bills: 2014 Legislature Wrap Up

clouds

The community had high hopes for meaningful action during the 2014 Utah Legislative Session on air quality. With the session now at an end, our friends at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality posted a nice summary of the bills that passed.

Here’s a quick overview, head over to their newsletter for the full story.

State Fleet

Legislators directed the Division of Fleet Operations to ensure that 50 percent or more of the state vehicles used to transport passengers will be alternative fuel or high-efficiency by August 30, 2018. View the bill.

Electric Vehicles

A House bill amended the current definition of public utilities to encourage businesses to provide charging stations for electric cars. Another bill provides a state income tax credit of $1500 for the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle and a tax credit allowance for a plug-in electric hybrid. View the bill. Legislation modified The Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technology Act to allow electric-hybrid vehicles to qualify for funding for alternative refueling infrastructure. View the bill.

Wood Burn Program

The Division of Air Quality received funding to educate the public about the dangers of wood smoke and help convert homes whose sole source of heat is wood to natural gas or other clean fuels. View the bill.

Medical Waste Incinerators

A Senate bill banned the incineration of medical waste within close proximity of a school or residential subdivision. View the bill.

Retrofit and Replacement Program

This program will help small businesses and individuals by providing grant and loan funds for emission-reducing technologies, including retrofits, repowers, and replacements. The program will also encourage replacement of snow removal, landscaping, and other yard equipment with cleaner alternatives. View the bill.

Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Funding

The Department of Air Quality (DAQ) received a one-time, $1.4 million grant that allocated $1 million for Utah-specific air quality research, $300,000 for an inventory and photochemical modeling study in the Uinta Basin, and $100,000 for volatile organic compound (VOC) infrared testing equipment. DAQ also received $400,000 in ongoing funding for four full-time employees to work on Uinta Basin oil and gas permitting and compliance.

The legislature appropriated $500,000 to DEQ for an air quality public awareness campaign in partnership with existing clean air programs such as UCAIR and TravelWise. DAQ received a one-time, $500,000 appropriation to help convert homes that burn wood as their sole source of heat and a one-time, $250,000 grant to educate the public on the hazards of wood smoke. The Clean Air Retrofit, Replacement, and Off-road Technology (CARROT) program received a one-time grant of $200,000 for grants and loans to small businesses and individuals seeking to reduce the emissions from their heavy-duty diesel or small-engine equipment.

Get the DEQ Newsletter

Get the full scoop from the DEQ newsletter and join their email list.