Governor focusing on cleaning the air

Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-09 01:34:17-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Governor Gary Herbert says air pollution is at the top of his agenda.

On Friday, students at Emerson Elementary School in Salt Lake City held a rally to encourage parents and drivers to turn off their cars while waiting to pick up their kids at school.

"For this past week, we've been having indoor recesses and we don't like walking the halls because it's just really boring," said Leilani Madrigal, student body president.

The rally came two days after hundreds of clean air activists visited the Utah State Capitol demanding the government do more about Utah's pollution program.

Herbert was out of town during Wednesday's protest, but now he's back in town and working on improving the state's pollution.

"I think people have the right to express themselves and we take the concerns of the public seriously. We're looking for practical, reasonable, rational, legal solutions to the air quality problems," Herbert said.

If Twitter is any indication, the Governor's Office is paying attention. They posted several tweets Friday morning about clean air, from "Poor air quality is unacceptable. It's time for a cultural change..." to "All options will be considered (if feasible, actually improves air quality, and the State has legal authority and financial means)."

Herbert says his focus isn't on regulations so much as on the responsibility of individual drivers.

"It's been very easy for everyone to think, 'It's someone else's problem and not my own. I'm not the culprit,' and we point at industry as the culprit but industry contributes just 15 percent. It's really not a large number," Herbert said.

Most policy initiatives thus far have been voluntary, though the state has issued a no-idle policy for its own vehicles and has purchased more natural gas vehicles.

The Governor says he's confident Utah's air will be improved in the next couple years.