Collaborating to improve air quality
Utah boasts one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. From the soaring Rocky Mountains to the Red Rocks of Moab, it's no secret that Utah is home to spectacular scenery you won't find anywhere else. It's also no secret that several times throughout the year, a thick, hazy cloud known as an inversion blankets this stunning scenery, making it hard to see, let alone appreciate our surroundings.
There is no doubt that air quality affects all Utahns. Poor air creates health, lifestyle and business challenges. From large corporations and small businesses, to schools, families and everyone in between, each of us is impacted by the air we breathe. It also means that it is up to each of us to make a conscious effort to create positive changes that will improve Utah's air quality.
By working together rather than pointing fingers and placing blame, we will be able to find real, lasting solutions. The reality is, there is no silver bullet to solving Utah's air quality issues. However, we do have an opportunity to actively work together to make Utah's air cleaner today and for future generations.
A key component to improving our air quality does involve businesses and manufacturers taking an active role in becoming part of the solution by making changes and utilizing technologies to mitigate impacts. Since the Clean Air Act was established 40 years ago, Utah industries have spent billions of dollars to help clear the air.
I have personally witnessed significant investment from industry through control technologies, idle-reduction programs and behavioral change that have led to significant reductions in fuel costs and consumption, emissions reductions and improved business practices. I have also seen improvements in other sectors.
We have a tremendous public transportation system through extensive investment over the past decade. With the addition of the Utah Transit Authority's TRAX and Frontrunner systems, we have created one of the most robust systems in the country. Now it is up to each of us to utilize it. If we all incorporate some of these small changes into our lives, it will add up to big results.
Many citizens have stepped up to be more responsible by driving less and participating in more carpooling and trip chaining. Many citizens have purchased newer, more efficient vehicles, and reduced idling when they have chosen to drive. Others have committed much of their time to raise awareness about our air quality, which has helped drive action. Despite the progress, we still have much work to do.
The bottom line is that Utah's air quality woes are caused by a number of factors. As our population grows, we will continue to face even greater air quality challenges. It is going to take time and dedication from every member of this community to make a difference.
We all have the power to be part of the solution through engagement, action and investment. Collaboration and partnership by citizens and businesses will also be important as we move forward. If we work together to find a solution, I am optimistic that we will all be able to breathe a little bit easier.
Todd R. Bingham is president of the Utah Manufacturers Association.