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Weather helping air quality in Cache Valley, but residents also play a role

February 24th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

Unusually warm weather has had a big impact on the instances of inversion this winter in Cache Valley — but that won’t change local and federal efforts aimed at reducing pollution in more typical weather years.

From December to early March the Cache Valley is generally more susceptible to an inversion that traps the pollution in the valley, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. This year, however, the warm temperatures haven’t allowed deep inversions to set up for long periods of time, allowing polluted air to escape.

While the weather has helped reduce the effects of inversion, pollution is still in the air — and is expected to return in winters to come. That’s why the Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization has made efforts to decrease pollution in Cache Valley through better transportation planning and other funded projects.

Those efforts have resulted in emissions reductions, said Jeff Gilbert, the organization’s transportation planner. He said that because air quality readings have formerly exceeded federal standards, the state of Utah had to come up with a plan to bring the area back into compliance by this year.

“This plan required the county to start a vehicle emission testing program and implemented various other control strategies to bring the county back in attainment by a set time frame,” Gilbert said.

While these changes are helping with Cache Valley’s air quality, the biggest anticipated reduction in emissions continues to be the federal government’s new vehicle emission standard.

“The overall result of this,” Gilbert said, “is that a car you buy in 2017 will be 98 percent cleaner than a 1990 car.”

The outcome of implementing these clean air initiatives may not be seen for many years, but there are some things Cache Valley residents can do every day to help reduce pollution.

The Utah Clean Air Partnership recommends carpools, public transit and ide-free driving as small steps that can make a big difference in air quality — no matter the weather.

More information on the partnership’s suggestions is available at www.ucair.org

Anna Tuckett, Jason Tebbs, Chase Ringle, Michael Morales and Cassie Davie contributed to this report.


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