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Posts tagged ‘inversion’

How’s the Air Quality at Your Home?

During the winter, when high pressure rolls in, pollution builds up.

Specifically pollution called PM2.5 which are tiny particles that actually obscure our view of the mountains and even of neighboring buildings on bad days.

The Division of Air Quality operates monitors at several locations across the Wasatch Front, but pollution concentrations can vary depending on where exactly you’re located. Contributing factors include:

  • Do you live next to a road?
  • Do you have a neighbor who frequently fires up their meat smoker or burns wood?
  • Is there a nearby restaurant or small business that releases precursor pollutants?
  • On top of all those factors– what is happening with the particular mix of geography and weather at your location?

Air quality science is complex.

But gaining a better understanding of pollution nuances across the valley can help policy makers make better decisions, and can help residents better protect themselves. Read more

Open Letter from Mayor Becker on Air Quality

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As you may know, air quality has been a major focus of my work as mayor. My administration has been working on bringing greater attention to the issue and I’ve been advocating for aggressive, meaningful steps to that can be taken by Salt Lake City, state government, industry and individuals to help clean our air.

This is a complex problem and the only way we’re going to solve it is with a comprehensive solution. Let’s come together and fix this problem right away-we can’t wait, the time for talk is over, we need to take action.

Mayor Becker delivers his State of the City address on air quality to a packed house.

Mayor Becker delivers his State of the City address on air quality to a packed house.

During my recent State of the City Address on solving the air quality problem, I proposed key actions that must be taken in order to accomplish this goal.

With clean air as our goal, Salt Lake City has adopted anti-idling ordinances, more than doubled our bike lanes and introduced the City’s first solar farm. For the upcoming year, we are launching the City’s first-ever multiple transit pass and are creating an incentive program to phase out wood burning stoves.

In addition to what Salt Lake City is doing, I’ve also outlined what the state ought to do. Those actions should include:

  • Allocating More Money for Public Transit
    • Increased funding for public transit in Salt Lake City would allow for buses and trains to run more frequently. We must make it more affordable and accessible for individuals to drive less and ride more.
  • Making Lower Sulfur Gasoline a Requirement
    • Tier 3 gasoline has lower levels of sulfur and therefore helps decrease emissions. It is widely available to us but is not required. Mandating that it be required would provide an immediate impact on our air quality.
  • Requiring Buildings to Use Power Efficiently
    • Utah’s energy code standards date back to 2006, lagging far behind many national and international standards. Adopting an updated building code for energy efficiency would help reduce energy use and improve air quality.
  • Making the True Cost of Driving Transparent at the Pump
    • Gas prices have a significant impact on how much people drive their cars. Raising the gas tax would help pay for better roads while also encouraging less driving and improving air quality.
  • Allowing Utah to set Utah-specific air quality standards
    • Setting air quality standards tailored to Utah’s needs is imperative if we are to improve our air quality. Generic national conditions will not work in Utah, and we need to set air quality standards that will work for us.

These are real solutions that will not only produce tangible differences, but produce them quickly. We have received a great response from the community, and are looking to turn that response into results.

If the state is unable to do these things for any reason, I’ve asked that they grant local governments the ability to make these changes because we will get it done at the local level. Enough is enough.

There are 2 things that I would ask of you in order to help improve our air quality.

  1. Lobby your legislators — Ask them to support these measures that I am bringing up and consider the other proposals that will clean up our air.
  2. If they do not support these measures, ask your legislators to grant authority to the local level, so that we can take care of our own problems. We can get this done on the local level if the state can’t or won’t.

I would also implore you to work with your legislators, and not against them. To be effective and to make real change, we need to work together in a respectful and civil manner. While it is important to let your voice be heard, it is equally important to do so in a manner which conveys respect and encourages cooperation.

One of the most memorable moments of my State of the City speech was when a class of 4th graders from Whittier Elementary School took the stage and sang a song they wrote about the inversion and what needs to be done. Our children are, at the end of the day, the most important reason we must strive to clean our air and these kids said it better than anyone could. Watch the video.

There has been enough talk, and it is time for action. A change must be made, and it is up to each and every one of us to make that change.
I hope you will join me in the fight to help improve the air quality of Salt Lake City.

Warm Regards,

Ralph Becker
Mayor
P.S. If you were unable to attend my State of the City address in person, the full text of the speech and some additional information about the issue can be found here.
Also the Salt Lake City Tribune ran a terrific op-ed that discusses the ideas I laid out in my air quality address and if you’re interested, you can read it here.

Mayor Becker Takes on Air Quality

On Wednesday, January 8, Mayor Ralph Becker gathered with residents, students and stakeholders to deliver his 2014 State of the City Address.

But instead of following tradition and sharing the administration’s accomplishments, Mayor Becker focused his entire speech on air quality.

The Mayor began by focusing on what Salt Lake City has already accomplished to reduce emissions and help clear the air. Efforts include the City’s Idle Free Ordinance, bike share, electric vehicle charging stations, biking infrastructure and the new net zero Public Safety Building. Read the full summary.

Then he outlined Salt Lake City’s next steps on air quality issues, including discount transit pass for city residents, creating an incentive program to replace woodburning stoves and phasing out inefficient maintenance equipment like 2 stroke engines. Read the full summary.

In some of the most compelling moments of the address, Mayor Becker outlined five clear requests for state government. These requests specifically deal with limitations that local governments face when combating air pollution. Part of the plea included the message “If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, let us. We at the local level can get it done.”

  1. Allocate more money for public transit. “We have to make it easier for people to use transit as an alternative to driving. We need more coverage that runs more frequently and costs less. Recent polling and many anecdotes I hear reinforce how difficult it is for most people to use transit. It just takes too long and is too inconvenient. And the only way to improve transit service is to better fund it. I urge our State to raise the cap on sales tax for transit. It should be a no-brainer. Or, if you are unwilling to do so, let us do it. Give us local control to fund transit. We at the local level can get it done.”
  2. Make lower sulphur gasoline available. “Tier 3 gasoline, as it is called, has lower levels of sulphur and therefore decreased emissions. It is mandated in other states and should be required for use along the Wasatch Front. This technology exists today to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions. Interestingly, one of our local refineries, Chevron, already produces Tier 3 gasoline, but it is shipped to Washington State because it’s is required there. Even our Salt Lake County Council of Governments endorsed the shift to Tier 3. Or, once again, if you are not willing to do that, let us make that determination locally.”
  3. Change state law to allow for standards that are relevant to Utah. “Do you all know that we have a state law that says our air quality standards here in Utah cannot be more strict than federal standards? Are we really okay with a standard that represents a passing grade for most other cities and states, but still allows us to fail? Since when are we content with Federal officials in Washington determining what’s best for the people of Utah? If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, give us local control over air quality standards so we can make them fit our local needs.”
  4. Make the true cost of driving transparent at the pump. “Gas prices directly affect whether people drive their cars more or less. According to a recent statewide survey, about half of Utahns would reduce vehicle use if gas cost an additional 25 to 75 cents per gallon. And, at an additional $1 per gallon, nearly two thirds would reduce their vehicle use and find other ways to run errands, get to work, and live their lives. If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, let us. We at the local level can get it done, and in fact local governments are united around a proposal for a local option gas tax increase.
  5. Require buildings to use power efficiently. Utah’s energy code standards date back to 2006. Since then, national and international building codes have been upgraded and have been proven to achieve a 30% improvement in energy efficiency. Many other jurisdictions across America have done this already. If state entities cannot or will not, let us do it. We can get it done locally.”

The event closed with the 4th grade ELP students from Whittier Elementary singing an original song called “The Frightful Inversion.” Watch the video below!

Additional Resources

Read a full transcript of the 2014 State of the City Address.

View images on SLCgreen Instagram.

Join the conversation! Use the #clearupslc hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

[VIDEO] Get Inspired to Clear the Air

‘Tis the season for New Years Resolutions.

While you’re revisiting resolutions to exercise, eat healthy and spend more time with those you love (a great way to start the new year!), consider making one more resolution — to help clear the air.

Through the winter Care to Clear the Air project (2010-2012), a series of videos captured the stories of residents making a resolution to limit their impact on air quality by driving less.

Watch the videos below to hear from people that have done everything from moving closer to where they work, to biking, carpooling and taking public transit.

Their stories will inspire you to make your own resolution to help clear the air!

Kyle LaMalfa shares his commitment to take public transit.


Read more

5 Ways to Limit Your Impact During an Inversion

Winter inversion season is here (collective sigh) and the Salt Lake Valley is currently in the grips of it’s first official inversion.

While periods of poor air quality can feel overwhelming, we’re here to offer five simple things you can do to limit your impact and protect your health. As we all know, whatever we put into the air during an inversion, we’re stuck with. So every little bit helps! Read more

SLC Proposes Discount UTA Pass Program

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Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker gathered with community leaders late last week to unveil a new proposed program geared towards clearing the air. The program would offer discounted UTA passes to Salt Lake City residents for just $30 a month — a 63% discount!

We all know that vehicle emissions are a key factor in the poor air quality that plagues our valley during the winter months. The good news is that getting people out of their cars and on to public transportation can go a long way to help reduce emissions and clear the air. This exciting program – the first of its kind in Utah – could make it possible for most city residents to have a UTA pass in their pocket!

Here are the details on the proposed program.

Purpose: Offer an annual transit pass to Salt Lake City residents to incentivize transit use and make riding transit more affordable.

Basic Structure: Salt Lake City residents will be eligible to purchase a one year transit pass for $360. The passes will be available for purchase from Salt Lake City upon providing proof of residency. Residents may pay all at once, or pay in 12 installments of $30 via a monthly bill.

The pass will be issued with the resident’s photo on it, and is non-transferable. There is no limit per household. The pass will be good on local and express bus, TRAX, and FrontRunner. Ski bus, Park City Connect and paratransit services will be excluded from the pass.

The program is a unique partnership between UTA and Salt Lake City. While modeled after other bulk pass programs offered by UTA for employees of eligible organizations, it’s the first pass of its kind to be designed for residents.

Benefits: In just 12 local trips per month (6 round-trips), residents who opt in to the pass will have broken even on their investment. Having a ‘pass in pocket’, residents are more likely to use transit.

Timeframe: The program will launch in early 2014. This pass is being implemented as a one-year pilot program. If successful, UTA and SLC may choose to continue the program. The program will be refined as needed and made available to other communities.

Basis: UTA completed a random sample telephone survey to assess interest in purchasing this pass. Based on results of the survey, up to 6,000 passes could be sold.

Media Coverage:

Next Steps: To make this program a reality, work to be completed over the next few months includes:

  • Funding allocated from Salt Lake City Council (Pending decision)
  • Set join goals between UTA/SLC to define goals and positive outcomes
  • Set up administrative systems
  • Determine tracking mechanisms
  • Marketing  and public information
  • Materials preparation (passes, etc..)
  • Back-office functions for both UTA and SLC accounting procedures