At its fourth annual Show UCAIR (Utah Clean Air Partnership) Summit, Gov. Gary Herbert and UCAIR Executive Director Thom Carter addressed our progress toward improving Utah’s air quality.

Governor Herbert, whose vision six years ago brought about the Utah Clean Air Partnership, discussed Utahns individual efforts in working for the goal of blue skies and better air. He also addressed his continued commitment by proposing $100 million for clean air efforts in his state budget.

UCAIR Executive Director, Thom Carter shared in UCAIR’s annual progress report that 57 percent of Utahns said they recognize that they are responsible for clearing our air—and they are responding. In January, UCAIR in partnership with Lighthouse Research, talked with 200 Utahns who responded about:

-       Idling: 59 percent of them turned off their engines rather than idling in a drive through, school or sports practice pickup

-       Trip chaining: 90 percent combined trips or errands rather than making a stop and going to a home base and then heading out again.

-        Carpooling: 41 percent shared a ride rather than driving alone.

“UCAIR has had one of its most successful years since its founding,” said Carter. “Through research, we are hearing from Utahns that they are making changes in their daily routines for the collective improvement of our air. The number of grants that fund air quality projects and programs to reduce emissions increased as did the number of partnership programs including a woodstove and snow blower exchange—where thousands of Utahns signed up to make a change and make a difference.”

The annual progress report demonstrated UCAIR successfully delivered this past year on its three foundational pillars: education, partnering and funding.

-  Education efforts continued to focus on information about emission sources, the health and economic impacts of poor air quality and suggestions and programs for Utahns to actively participate in improving our air.

-  Partnering included a snow blower exchange with Rocky Mountain Power and a wood stove exchange with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

Carter also announced two upcoming ShowUCAIR programs, a gas can exchange with Boeing and Union Pacific and a water heater rebate with Chevron and Marathon.

-  Funding through this year’s UCAIR grants program enabled 12 organizations to make their innovative ideas reality. These projects have produced measurable progress toward better air across this state. More than $225,000 in grant funding was shared with Utah Clean Energy/Utah Community Action, SLC Bike Share, the Salt Lake Chamber in support of the Clear the Air Challenge and other cities and foundations throughout the state.

Since the UCAIR grants program began five years ago, 59 grants have been awarded totaling nearly $2 million dollars.

UCAIR also announced its Clean Air Awards. This year’s recipients included John Miller, as Clean Air Person of the Year, Fidelity Investments as Clean Air Business Partner of the Year, and Intermountain Healthcare as Clean Air Community Partner of the Year.

“Enjoying good air quality is an ongoing challenge. There are no perfect answers, but there are practical solutions,” said Carter. “It’s been really rewarding to talk with so many people who are making easy and inexpensive changes, and we’re seeing the return on their effort. While our population has increased by 34 percent over the past 15 years, total emissions have dropped 38 percent. This aggregate improvement of everyone doing something has truly added up to something remarkable.”