Our cars and trucks are the largest polluter in the Wasatch Front. Vehicles emit pollutants into the air directly during use, as well as through chemical reactions between substances in the air reacting to car emissions. Major vehicle pollutants include particulate matter (a leading cause of our wintertime pollution), hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. They also give off greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change. All of these impact our air quality for the worse.
HEAL’s work on vehicle emissions centers around education to spur individual change and legislative and regulatory action. Through conversations at local events, online and handout materials, partnerships, and community nights, we educate the public about the health effects of bad air, how their cars contribute to that, and what easy, individual action they can take to make a difference. We encourage people to just remember clean air:
C: Carpool whenever possible
L: Limit cold starts and combine trips
E: Engage in clean air advocacy
A: Access public transportation
N: Navigate smog ratings and engine types
A: Avoid unnecessary commutes
I: Idle less or not at all
R: Ride a bike or walk
We collaborate with Utah regulatory agencies and legislators to implement realistic programs and standards that will help reduce our vehicle emissions. We rely on evidence-based solutions and successful models in other states to find what’s best for Utah.
Using alternative transportation is one of the best ways to reduce personal vehicle emissions. By decreasing your number of single occupancy vehicle trips (driving in the car by yourself) through carpooling, riding public transit, or doing things like biking, you can reduce your emissions footprint. And when these actions become a permanent habit, you make a long term change in our air quality.
While it would be great for everyone in Utah to use public transit or bike to commute, HEAL recognizes there are obstacles to overcome before that can become a reality. That’s why we use education, outreach, collaboration, and policy to try and tackle these obstacles. We support and still are working to implement policy measures like free fare days which will provide a number days where all Utah Transit Authority transportation (buses, TRAX, Frontrunner) will be free on certain days during the inversion season. We form a team of supporters to participate in the annual Clear the Air Challenge which makes reducing emissions a fun game. And we collaborate with entities like the Utah Transit Authority and other community partners on transit-oriented development measures, ways to address first-mile, last-mile issues, and how to make public transit more accessible.
If we can incentivize people to get their car off the road we can, hopefully, show them how alternative modes of transportation can be integrated into their lives.
ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES
Vehicles are our biggest source of pollution in Utah. But as technology advances, more affordable and accessible options are available to reduce vehicle emissions like low-emission (LEV) and zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).
Unless you live in Utah.
While Utah is building the infrastructure like electric vehicle charging stations to support the use of LEVs and ZEVs, Utahns don’t have easy access to purchase these vehicles. Utah has no state mandate that requires manufacturers to bring these vehicles to Utah, so they send them to states that do have such a mandate instead.
And despite the state’s many investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, there are constant attacks on electric vehicles – many of which seek to increase fees on these clean cars. HEAL is leading the legislative charge against these increases.
Additionally, the potential impact of zero or low emissions trucks could have a profound impact on Utah’s air quality. We are beginning conversations as to how we could legislatively, through incentivizing actions, have more trucks on our roads and highways be low emitters. We are also watching the reinstatement of federal clean car standards.