Vehicle Emissions

The Campaign

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.

Current Strategies

FREE FARE DAYS

In the 2019 legislative session, Representative Joel Briscoe’s HB353 Reduction of Single Occupancy Vehicle Trips Pilot Program passed and received $500,000 in funding. This bill creates a 3-year pilot program where all Utah Transit Authority transportation (buses, TRAX, Frontrunner) will be free on certain days during the inversion season. The $500,000 will support around 7 days of free fares over the next three years but we anticipate additional private and municipal funding that will allow for more free fare days to occur

Even though the bill is passed, HEAL’s work with free fare days isn’t over yet. We are providing public education on why taking alternative transportation is good for our air, spreading the word during the winter when a free fare day is approaching, and giving ongoing general support for the program.

Having free fare days will help improve our air quality over the long term by incentivizing people to get their car off the road and, hopefully, showing them how alternative modes of transportation can be integrated into their lives, even when the fare isn’t free.

PROMOTE SMOG RATINGS

Do you know the smog rating on your car? Smog ratings indicate your vehicle’s tailpipe emissions that contribute to air pollution. Ratings are on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst emissions and 10 being the cleanest. You want to shop for a car with a higher smog rating (refer to the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to learn more about your car’s smog rating, including special differences in model years). HEAL works to educate the general public and car dealerships about how to find their smog rating and what it means, and to encourage the public to purchase cars with higher smog ratings.

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.

HEAL is currently developing paths for LEV and ZEV to come to Utah, whether it be through a credit system or otherwise.