Salt Lake County officials announce new campaign to address air quality issues

File photo: PxHere

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, March 4, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County officials announced several new initiatives Wednesday intended to help the community with its ongoing air quality problems.

The initiatives include increasing public awareness about idling, helping low income vehicle owners repair their broken pollution control systems, and helping officers identify illegally modified vehicles, said a news release from Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office.

Unified Police Department is also announcing the adoption of first-in-kind police hybrid interceptors, the news release said. These vehicles are the first hybrids designed specifically for law enforcement. Law enforcement vehicles require certain specifications which were previously only available in standard gas engine models.

“We at the Unified Police Department are doing our part to impact climate change by reducing our carbon emissions,” said Sheriff Rosie Rivera. “This is being done without impacting our operational and performance abilities.”

As part of this new campaign, Salt Lake County wants to strike a balance between creating public awareness and ticketing, the news release said. The county created a new flyer for officers to hand out to drivers if they are spotted idling or in a smoking vehicle. The pamphlet informs residents about the negative effect idling has on air quality.

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When it comes to smoking vehicles, which emit many times more pollution than standard vehicles, the pamphlet directs residents to the Salt Lake County Health Department. In addition to providing emissions inspections and testing, SLCoHD offers the Vehicle Repair Assistance Program to low-income individuals to help repair qualifying higher-polluting vehicles.

“Our Health Department’s efforts to help low-income individuals keeps thousands of pounds of pollution from entering our airshed,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “While there is no ‘silver bullet’ for the Wasatch Front, Salt Lake County is working on many fronts to be part of the solution.”

While officials emphasized that they want to avoid handing out tickets, they are willing to do so if needed, the news release said. Illegally modified vehicles are created when vehicle owners intentionally remove the pollution controls from their vehicles. This results in clouds of black smoke emitting from the tailpipe. A second pamphlet was created to help officers identify these vehicles.

Officials said they also need the public’s help and are encouraging residents to report polluting vehicles by calling the statewide hotline at 385-GOT-SMOG (468-7664) or go online at utahsmokingvehicles.org.

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