Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Air Quality Accomplishments, Next Steps and Asks from State

2014 State of the City Address

January 8, 2013  University of Utah  noon

Addendum I

Salt Lake City Air Quality Accomplishments


  • Converted City fleet vehicles to clean fuels and low/no emission vehicles.
  • Created the Clear the Air Challenge, reducing of over seven million (7,253,868) vehicle miles traveled and instituted a neighborhood based trip reduction program called Smart Trips;
  • Adopted anti-idling ordinances and education efforts.
  • Partnered with Utah Clean Cities to provide electric car charging stations;
  • Adopted planning and zoning changes to develop walkable and bikable streets and neighborhood centers andcomplement use of transit; 
  • Improved building development standards to support solar energy and urban agriculture (which results in less fuel needed for transporting food);
  • Required the new, upcoming taxi fleets, to have low- or no-emission vehicles;
  • Led the effort to open two new rail lines linking the airport via TRAX and Sugar House via the streetcar S Line to downtown and our neighborhoods;
  • More than doubled our bike lanes; and
  • With the leadership of the Downtown Alliance and Ben Bolte, opened the wildly successful SLC Bikeshare program downtown; and
  • Built the nation’s first net-zero Public Safety Building;
  • Introduced the City’s first solar farm;
  • Performed energy audits and implemented energy efficiency on all our City buildings;
  • With Utah Clean Energy, instituted a residential solar installation loan program; and
  • Co-located City services near TRAX to help reduce the need for multiple trips.

Salt Lake City’s Next Steps on Air Quality Issues

  • Will launch Utah’s first-ever municipal transit pass, to be available to all Salt Lake City residents for $30/month in March, 2014
  • Phase out 2-stroke engines in our maintenance equipment; 4 stroke engines are ten-to-thirty times cleaner, and electric engines even more so; and
  • Create an incentive program to replace wood-burning stoves. In an airshed study of wintertime air quality in Salt Lake City, researchers determined that the emissions associated with “heating one home with a wood stove is equal to heating over 90,000 homes with natural gas.”
  • Raise our minimum standard for new and renovated municipal building construction to LEED Gold through an executive order, effective immediately;
  • Commence a city-wide program to evaluate the energy use of large commercial buildings, and provide building owners assistance to complete energy efficiency upgrades that will save them energy and money;
  • Develop tailpipe emissions reduction plans for all of our City Departments; and
  • Build, over the next 5 to 10 years, the most energy efficient airport terminal in the country. Plans are underway to meet the goal of a net zero Airport in the next decade.

Salt Lake City’s Call for Help from State Partners

1. Allocate more money for public transit. We have to make it easier for people to use transit as an alternative to driving. We need more coverage that runs more frequently and costs less. Recent polling and many anecdotes I hear reinforce how difficult it is for most people to use transit. It just takes too long and is too inconvenient. And the only way to improve transit service is to better fund it. I urge our State to raise the cap on sales tax for transit. It should be a no-brainer. Or, if you are unwilling to do so, let us do it.  Give us local control to fund transit. We at the local level can get it done.

2. Make lower sulphur gasoline available. Tier 3 gasoline, as it is called, has lower levels of sulphur and therefore decreased emissions. It is mandated in other states and should be required for use along the Wasatch Front. This technology exists today to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions. Interestingly, one of our local refineries, Chevron, already produces Tier 3 gasoline, but it is shipped to Washington State because it’s is required there. Even our Salt Lake County Council of Governments endorsed the shift to Tier 3. Or, once again, if you are not willing to do that, let us make that determination locally.

3. Change state law to allow for standards that are relevant to Utah. Do you all know that we have a state law that says our air quality standards here in Utah cannot be more strict than federal standards? Are we really okay with a standard that represents a passing grade for most other cities and states, but still allows us to fail? Since when are we content with Federal officials in Washington determining what’s best for the people of Utah? If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, give us local control over air quality standards so we can make them fit our local needs.

4. Make the true cost of driving transparent at the pump. Gas prices directly affect whether people drive their cars more or less. According to a recent statewide survey, about half of Utahns would reduce vehicle use if gas cost an additional 25 to 75 cents per gallon. And, at an additional $1 per gallon, nearly two thirds would reduce their vehicle use and find other ways to run errands, get to work, and live their lives. If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, let us.  We at the local level can get it done, and in fact local governments are united around a proposal for a local option gas tax increase.

5. Require buildings to use power efficiently. Utah’s energy code standards date back to 2006. Since then, national and international building codes have been upgraded and have been proven to achieve a 30% improvement in energy efficiency. Many other jurisdictions across America have done this already. If state entities cannot or will not, let us do it. We can get it done locally.