Utah Moms submit air improvement plan to Governor

Posted at 8:30 PM, Mar 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-09 00:51:22-05

By Caroline Connolly, FOX 13 News Reporter.

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Moms for Clean Air think they have a solution to help our bad air, but it could cost you.

The activist group submitted a comprehensive proposal to Governor Herbert on Friday, which includes a provision to consider charging an extra fee for items that contribute to the pollution, like a snow blower.

Cherise Udell, the organization’s founder, says the plan examines how to solve the problem from all different angles, something she believes lawmakers have failed to do.

"So far, we've seen piecemeal leadership, we've been seeing let's address this and let's tinker over here," explained Udell, who met with Gov. Herbert a week ago about the issue.

The proposal, called The Plan to Improving Air Quality in Utah, would first create an Air Quality Task Force that would be solely devoted to the cause for 12 months.

Udell said, "We would like that to be the overriding governing body on what's happening with air quality.”

The plan recommends ways to reduce emissions that include minimizing operations during red air months, lowering speed limits to 55 mph during inversion and ozone seasons and creating tax incentive programs for both consumers and businesses to spend less time in the car.

Udell wants the effort to be about both the present and the future.

"We are also asking that the end product of this Air Task Force be have a blue print over the next ten years, with very clear mandatory and voluntary targets for industry, business, government and citizenry," she explained.

One crucial part of the proposal could mean Utahns have to pay for polluting through what's called airshed user fees, similar to those charged for managing garbage and sewage. Udell wants the task force to consider implementing a fee on items with a gas or diesel engine exhaust.

"The concept is if you're going to go to the hardware store and buy a snow blower that is highly polluting, fine, but it's going to have a huge airshed user fine slapped on top of it," she said.

Utah residents are not entirely sold on the provision, though.

Kristyl Buntley said, "You can put taxes on things, it's just going to make people angry and people are still going to drive their cars."

While pieces of the proposal may not sit well with lawmakers, Udell hopes the effort as a whole will get more done at the capitol.

She has requested that Gov. Herbert respond to her plan within a month, but with the legislative session coming to an end soon, his staff say they cannot layout a timeline.