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Air Quality

Air Quality



For most of the year, Utah’s air quality is among the best in the nation, but for extended periods of time in the summer and winter, regional weather patterns lead to poor air conditions. Poor air quality limits our ability to enjoy Utah’s natural surroundings, and it impacts the health of Utah’s population, especially for those who already struggle with asthma or respiratory diseases.

Causes of Air Pollution

Source Pie Chart

Positive Progress

In the late 1990s, when Envision Utah was founded, some parts of the state failed to meet national air quality standards, with pollution projected to get even worse. Since then, Envision Utah and others have worked hard to address the problem. Today, emissions across all inventoried pollutants have decreased by nearly half, even as Utah’s overall population has grown.


On October 15, 2013, Governor Gary Herbert announced that he was asking Envision Utah to convene and facilitate the efforts of a Clean Air Action Team. The Action Team includes representatives from health care, business, nonprofit organizations, government, academia, transportation, and more. This independent team has worked to provide a set of broadly supported recommendations to improve our air quality. These recommendations can then be implemented by government, businesses, and individuals. They are as follows:

  1. 1. Ensure Utahns have access to low-sulfur Tier 3 fuel as soon as possible.
  2. 2. Accelerate the transition to cleaner Tier 3 cars. If all cars and fuel were Tier 3 by 2050 we would remove approximately 62% of mobile emissions per day from our air.
  3. 3. Reduce the amount of wood burning that occurs during inversion periods. Eliminating residential wood burning would decrease daily area source emissions by about 5% in 2050.
  4. 4. Invest additional resources in public transportation and facilities that make "active transportation" modes like biking and walking more convenient. By 2050, if we reduce the number of miles driven per capita by 10% we would reduce daily mobile emissions by roughly 8%.
  5. 5. Allow the Air Quality Board and Division of Air Quality to adopt rules that are more stringent than federal regulations and continue to give the Division of Air Quality sufficient budget to continue effectively achieving its mission.
  6. 6. Adopt a rule to require suppliers to sell only ultra-low NOx water heaters. Replacing all water heaters with ultra-low NOx models would reduce daily area emissions by about 5.3% in 2050.
  7. 7. Increase the energy efficiency of our existing and new buildings. Increasing the efficiency of existing buildings could reduce area source emissions by about 1.7%.
      7a.Increasing new building efficiency by 50% would eliminate approximately 2.4% of our area source emissions by 2050.
  8. 8. Continue current efforts to reduce emissions from the oil & gas operations within the Uintah Basin.

CLICK HERE to download the Clean Air Action Team's letter to Governor Herbert
CLICK HERE to download the full 2015 recommendations

Process Description:


Prepare a broadly supported vision and recommendations that will improve Utah’s air quality in the short, medium, and long term.


To be successful, recommendations must have broad support among key stakeholders and the public. The public has the right to choose and, when presented with good information, will make wise choices. The role of the Clean Air Action Team is not to decide on recommendations and then educate Utahns about what was decided, but instead to frame choices and their consequences (in terms of cost and benefit) so that the public can decide the course forward. Choices and their consequences should be analyzed and presented in an unbiased, principled way.


It is proposed that the Clean Air Action Team will proceed as follows:

  1. Solicit public input regarding potential short-, medium-, and long-term strategies to consider. This could be done through web tools and through public workshops.
  2. Establish a manageable number of strategies to analyze for reducing emissions.
  3. Determine whether there are short-term strategies that could be implemented this winter (e.g., through a public education campaign designed to change behavior).
  4. Analyze the strategies based upon their effectiveness in reducing emissions and the costs of implementing the strategies.
  5. Present in a simple format the potential choices, along with their costs and benefits, to the public and allow them to provide feedback through an online survey that will be validated by a statistical survey. A public awareness campaign will invite as many people as possible to participate.
  6. Based upon public feedback, establish an air quality vision and recommendations.

Ground Rules

Members of the Clean Air Action Team should:

  • Be courteous toward one another.
  • Give honest and fair consideration to every idea.
  • Respect and consider the desires of the people of the State of Utah.
  • Be solution-oriented. It is not the task of the group to lay blame or to evaluate scientific research about the health consequences of air pollution. The group begins with the common understanding that Utah’s air quality should be improved.

Meeting Summaries


Clean Air Action Team Members

  • Stuart Adams, State Senator
  • Patrice Arent, State Representative
  • Ralph Becker, Mayor Salt Lake City
  • David Brems, GSBS Architects,
  • Lonnie Bullard, Jacobsen Construction (co-chair)
  • Rebecca Chavez-Houck, State Representative
  • Jeff Edwards, Executive Director, Economic Development Corporation of Utah
  • Robin Erickson, Utah Clean Cities
  • Ryan Evans, Salt Lake Chamber
  • Matthew Eyring, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Vivint Inc.
  • Dr. Robert Gillies, State Climatologist
  • Andrew Gruber, Executive Director, Wasatch Front Regional Council
  • Dr. Michelle Hofmann, Physician, Breathe Utah (co-chair)
  • Susan Hardy, Mountainland Association of Governments
  • Roger Jackson, FFKR Architects
  • Ron Jibson, President and CEO, Questar
  • Linda Johnson, Citizen
  • Terry Marasco, Executive Director, Moms for Clean Air
  • Alan Matheson, State Planning Coordinator and Governor’s Environmental Advisor
  • Ben McAdams, Mayor Salt Lake County
  • Dan McArthur, Mayor St. George
  • Nancy McCormick, State President, AARP
  • Dr. Robert Paine, Pulmonologist, Program on Air Quality, Health and Society, U of U
  • Angelo Papastamos, UDOT Travelwise
  • Dr. Edward Redd, State Representative and physician
  • Dr. Bob Rolfs, Deputy Director, Utah Department of Health
  • Steve Sands, Kennecott, Air Quality Board
  • Joseph Shaffer, Director of Health, Tri-County Health, Uintah Basin
  • Matt Sibul, Utah Transit Authority
  • Amanda Smith, Executive Director, Dept. of Environmental Quality
  • Lowry Snow, State Representative
  • Dr. Charles Sorenson, CEO, Intermountain Health Care
  • Peter Stempel, Stempel Form Architects
  • Cody Stewart, Governor’s Energy Advisor
  • Kathy Van Dame, Air Quality Board
  • Vicki Varela, Director, Utah Office of Tourism
  • Ted Wilson, Executive Director, UCAIR
  • Sarah Wright, Executive Director, Utah Clean Energy



Behavioral Research on Air Quality -Utah Basin Air Quality - DEQ/DAQ
Presented at the KUED screening of "The Air We Breathe" - 02.04.14

Clean Air Action Team Press Release - 01.30.14

Clean Air Action Team Legislative Recommendations - 01.30.14

Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards

Contributions of Wood Smoke PM2.5 Levels During Inversions

Air Quality Research Results Quantitative Findings (pdf)

Utah Air Quality Research Raw Numbers (pdf)

Utah Basin Air Quality - DEQ/DAQ

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