Utah has long had a problem with air quality. The mountains around us cause a lot of inversions that trap dangerous pollution in our valley. However, we do not have to throw up our hands and give up, thinking that decreasing air quality is inevitable. There are things that we can do, things that we must do, to clean up our air and create a more beautiful and healthy environment for ourselves and our children.
The state government can lead the way in this effort. We should commit to upgrading, over time, all of our government buildings to implement renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. We can also use electric vehicles for some state fleets where it is feasible to do so. The state needs to lead by example.
We need to continue the plans that are already in motion to phase out coal as a power source in Utah by 2030.
We can also make it easier for people in our state to choose electric vehicles by ensuring adequate charging station infrastructure is built throughout the state. At the same time, if we can educate the public on the environmental and monetary benefits of going electric, more people will choose to do so – and technology is getting better and better every day.
As our population grows and our density increases, we need to continue to make improvements to our public transportation system to ensure that it can be a reasonable alternative to driving. The innovative VIA ridesharing program, recently implemented by UTA to provide better last mile service in southern Salt Lake County, is making it much easier for people who don’t live near a TRAX station to use public transportation. This program needs to be continued and expanded.
Over time, these changes can bring lasting, powerful changes to our air quality.