UCAIR’s monthly partner meeting recap is here. This installment covers our first partners meeting of 2019. First, we had an interesting panel discussion about the upcoming 2019 legislative session. We then heard from Bailey Bowthorpe with the Salt Lake Chamber about the Clear the Air Challenge that will be taking place this February.
Legislative Preview Panel Discussion
Panelists: Bryce Bird (Division of Air Quality), Andrew Gruber (Wasatch Front Regional Council), Jessica Reimer (HEAL Utah), Ashley Miller (Breathe Utah), Des Barker (Chevron & Rio Tinto)
Moderated: Thom Carter (UCAIR)
In preparation for the 2019 legislative session the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is working to identify targeted air quality projects. Additionally, DAQ is collaborating with the governor’s office to determine how to allocate the funding proposed in his budget. The $100 million purposed in governor’s budget for air quality opens the door for the DAQ to work with legislators on improving our air quality. As part of this process, DAQ staff determining cost per ton or microgram emissions reductions to identify programs that will result in the best emissions improvements. A good example of a cost-effective program that results in a direct air quality benefit is the wood stove program which was very popular. DAQ is also exploring opportunities to leverage funds from the legislature to get additional money from private or public sources.
Local advocates are working with several legislators to advance clean air legislation. Around Christmas 2017, UTA ran a free fare pilot day to encourage use of transit. The pilot was a success and saw good participation from the public. UTA and HEAL Utah want to build on that momentum to promote public education and behavior change. Working with Representative Joel Briscoe they hope to create a fund from the government, private, and community sources to continue free fare days. Another bill HEAL Utah is working on with Representative Angela Romero is continued from the 2018 legislative session. The ‘coal roller’ bill to increase fines on the owners of vehicles that are intentionally modified to emit large amounts of black smoke. This bill will also improve communications between law enforcement and emissions testing programs to make it more difficult for individuals to get around existing regulations regarding vehicle emissions. They would also like to add a provision to the bill to add protections for vulnerable users, like bicyclists and pedestrians who are exposed to the smoke from these illegally modified vehicles.
Breathe Utah is working with Representative Steve Handy on two bills related to freight switchers, an issue that was also raised last session. Currently, approximately 60 freight switchers operating in non-attainment areas of the state. These switchers are often older and at a tier 0 or tier 0+ emission standard. Additionally, they must idle continuously to keep the machinery warm. This results in spikes of NOx pollution equivalent to I-15. During the last legislative session, a $2 million appropriation was proposed to start a pilot with Union Pacific to do repower of up to 3 of their freight switchers was proposed, however it did not garner enough support.. The proposed bills for this session would modify the language for CARROT fund to include these locomotives for available funding and other funding opportunities, such as, DERA. Representative Handy is also working on a resolution calling on the EPA to set stricter emissions standards on locomotives. This will hopefully bring more attention to the issue of this significant source of emissions.
Industry has also been preparing for the 45-day legislative session. They have working on getting the support of those working on policy and other stakeholders to understand the economic impacts of poor air quality. Our population is growing but some people are hesitant to work and play here because of our poor air quality. It is important to make the connection between poor air quality and the negative impact on the economic possibilities for future generations. Industry is trying to make changes where it is possible with improved air quality in mind. While this is a step in the right direction, urban planning must also be a part of the conversation.
Air quality is directly impacted by how we design our communities and the transportation choices that are viable and effective. There are several bills that focus on transportation and development that will be presented during the legislative session. One bill would take state funds allocated for road projects and make them eligible for active transportation options. Another bill would encourage cities to coordinate new housing development with public transit, making it a feasible option for residents. The bill would also designate $15 million to help make these housing projects more feasible financially for developers. Finally, there is a proposed appropriation in the governor’s budget which would direct $2 million of ongoing funds to transportation and land use connection programs. This appropriation would also provide technical assistance to local communities to assist in planning their development.
Clear the Air Challenge – Bailey Bowthorpe, Policy Communication and Program Manager, Salt Lake Chamber
It is that time of year again! Over the last 10 years the challenge has resulted in 1,086,973 trips saved, 15,071,921 miles saved, 5,095 tons of CO2 reduced, and $6,495,470 saved. This year the Clear the Air Challenge is going to be starting on February 1 and running throughout the month of February. The tracking system for the challenge allows you to track your Travelwise strategies including carpooling, using transit, teleworking, trip chaining or active transportation like biking or walking. New this year to the challenge is the use of e-bikes or scooters can now be logged and counted towards the overall number of trips and miles saved. You can sign up now on their website or on the mobile app, if you would like to be a part of the UCAIR team, you can sign up here. Participants will have until March 4 to log trips and winners will be announced on March 8. Anyone interested in the challenge can contact Bailey Bowthorpe with the Salt Lake Chamber for further information.
PARTNER ROUND TABLE
Following the presentation, partners shared what projects and initiatives they are currently working on. These included:
John Miller, Mark Miller Toyota – Miller car dealerships will soon have stickers on the vehicles on their lots with a smog rating of 7 or higher. These will help buyers make a more educated car purchase. They will also have an AWD Prius available within the next 3 weeks.
Justin Smart, Penna Powers – The winter campaign is up and running. The UCAIR site has some good content that ranges from health impacts of air quality to educational videos to complement partner messages. Please use the #ShowUCAIR to unify the air quality message.
Thom Carter, UCAIR – UCAIR has a community calendar where you can post your events. Please donate to the Clean Air Fund on your tax return this year to help fund new quality programs, like the ShowUCAIR Snow Blower Exchange. The UCAIR 4th Annual Summit is Wednesday, February 6th with Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel. There is a special ticket price nonprofits and government employees.
Next Meeting: February 15, 2018, 9:00-11:00 AM