Our View: Small steps against dirty air

Friday , January 24, 2014 - 10:48 AM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

As Utah freezes under dirty air, the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) celebrates another birthday this month. Established to help individuals and organizations take action to improve Utah’s air quality, UCAIR is doing a commendable job. It has awarded $350,000 to 13 organizations to fund education, energy/transportation and home retrofit projects. Also, in a partnership with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, UCAIR offers the “Assist” program, which gives grants to small businesses (fewer than 100 employees). The money is to assist the businesses in complying with federal air quality mandates and making improvements to reduce emissions.

There are a host of other, smaller, UCAIR efforts, including a Utah dirty air/air quality video game from the University of Utah. These are energetic efforts, and we hope they help reduce the dirty air that circulates. They are small steps, but together they may eventually make a big impact.

Nevertheless, there are still other producers of our dirty air that need to get involved in efforts to improve air quality. Utah industry accounts for 11 percent of our pollution problem. Some watchdog groups tag industry with a higher percentage. It’s imperative that all major players in Utah are in compliance with air-quality regulations. If they are not, close them until they are in compliance.

The biggest cause of Utah pollution is tailpipe emissions, or driving, and winter heating in homes and businesses. Efforts to provide incentives to lessen the volume — and impact — of these air-quality threats must always be initiated. There’s talk on Utah’s Capitol Hill of providing tax credits for individuals who choose public transportation over driving personal vehicles. That’s an idea that merits debate. Utilities have incentives for practices that are friendly to our air.

Small steps against dirty air must continue, and hopefully be joined by larger steps. We don’t want today’s air to be the norm, or worse, for the next generation.

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