We are in the middle of our annual struggle with wintertime pollution across the valleys of northern Utah. In 2011 we mark the third year of our anti-idling campaign, "Turn the Key, Be Idle Free." It's a program designed to educate residents about saving gas, improving air quality and promoting good health by turning off car engines whenever parked and waiting for more than 10 seconds (except in traffic).
Anti-idling is just one of Salt Lake County's innovative solutions we pursue to help combat our poor air quality.
Air Quality Facts
Over 50 percent of our air pollution comes from motor vehicles.
80 percent of Salt Lake County residents are concerned by red air days.
Five out of six Salt Lake County residents acknowledge that utilizing alternative transportation on poor air days would have a measurable impact on our air quality.
During two summers of the Clear the Air Challenge, over 4.1 million pounds of vehicle emissions were kept out of the air.
If all drivers living along the Wasatch Front parked their car just one day a week, vehicle emissions would be reduced by 6,500 tons a year.
Clear the Air Winter Campaign Underway
With the colder temps comes the gunky brown haze we all know and dread. Following the success of the summer Clear the Air Challenge, Salt Lake City has expanded its Clear the Air initiatives to include a brand new winter-based program to engage residents to give a new winter and air-friendly TravelWise strategy a try this January.
Individuals are encouraged to participate in the program and can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (801) 535-7755. Once registered, participants will receive special assistance to make a winter-friendly TravelWise commute a snap. Through interactive community events, Yellow/Red text alerts and other tools, participants will find it easy to do their part to help clear the air during inversion season.
We all have a role to play to help ensure our community is a healthy and thriving place to live, work and play. Don't miss out on a great opportunity to become a champion for this important issue!
Using Renewable Fuel to Run Cleaner Fleets
Launched in 2010, Salt Lake County's Urban Farming Biofuel Program explores how publicly owned non-traditional agronomic lands can grow biofuel feedstock for conversion into biodiesel. Biofuel is defined as a renewable fuel derived from biological matter and the county's fleet currently uses this fuel in some of its vehicles—10,000 gallons were used in 2009.
To expand this effort, Salt Lake County and its partners ,Salt Lake City Public Utilities, Utah State University, the South Davis Sewer District and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have launched a biofuel feedstock pilot project on 20 acres of dry farmland just southwest of the Salt Lake International Airport. Safflower, which is highly drought-tolerant, was planted in March. Safflower also provides a high yield of biofuel feedstock that can be converted to biodiesel. These plants are expected to yield approximately 50 gallons of biodiesel per acre.
If successful, this biodiesel will be utilized by local government fleets, reducing the amount of imported diesel fuel purchased and improving sustainability and carbon footprint of the area. In addition, a viable alternative for recycling biosolids will be created.
With the success of the Urban Farming Biofuel program this year, it is anticipated this program will produce over 20,000 gallons/year of biodiesel. Currently, the program includes growing and harvesting biofuels feedstock. We anticipate this innovative program will soon become a national, and possibly international, model.
I encourage everyone to learn more about helping improve our air quality by visiting the Care to Clear the Air website at www.caretocleartheair.org.