Letter: Land-use planning should be part of air quality solutions

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.

It’s encouraging to see state Sen. Kirk Cullimore introduce a bill to reduce Utah’s emissions by 50% by 2030. Our dirty air is shortening our lives and reducing our quality of life, but we have the tools to clean it up.

Sen. Cullimore’s proposal is a good start, with measures to promote cleaner vehicles, reduce emissions from buildings, and create a cap-and-trade program for industrial polluters. But this proposal can go further. With Utah growing rapidly, our development patterns will have an outsized impact on emissions. Wise planning will reduce Utahns’ need to drive by promoting walkable, mixed-use development and investing in biking, walking, and transit. These changes will also save Utahns money on transportation and improve roadway safety.

The Legislature has many options to promote responsible growth, including how it funds and prioritizes UDOT projects. The legislature could also incentivize municipalities to plan for development that reduces transportation emissions.

Cleaning up our air is literally a matter of life and death. The Legislature should take up Senator Cullimore’s proposal and go further by ensuring development and transportation patterns are part of the solution. Doing so will benefit our health, economy and environment for years to come.

Anders Hart, Salt Lake City

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