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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan officials encourage residents to be idle free

Dec 04, 2019 10:16AM ● By Susan Palmer

South Jordan passed a resolution encouraging residents to not idle more than one minute. (Susan Palmer/City Journals)

By Susan Palmer | [email protected]

 The Salt Lake Valley is one of the areas in the U.S. with the poorest air quality. Often, in winter months, during long-term inversions, Salt Lake Valley ranks No. 1 in the worst air quality in the entire country. 

Salt Lake Valley’s mountain ranges trap stagnant air. As the stagnant air remains trapped, it fills with more and more pollution from the populated areas of the valley. This is not a new phenomenon; the native populations of Utah were well aware of this issue. The population is now growing, and the pollution is worsening with the growth. 

On Oct. 15, the South Jordan City Council discussed a Resolution Item presented by City Attorney Ryan Loose. This resolution would ask people to be mindful of idling their automobiles for more than one minute.

South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey put forward a resolution to the city council. Ramsey said, regarding the resolution proposal, that it was “an effort to see what we in South Jordan can do to move ever so slightly toward cleaner air.”

South Jordan leaders are trying to make a small difference in air quality and decided to put forward a resolution instead of an ordinance. The reason being an ordinance has to be enforced as a law. Being an idle-free community is almost impossible to enforce. SoJo officials would have to fine everyone who is idling longer than a minute and give them a ticket. 

South Jordan residents are encouraged to not idle their vehicle for more than one minute. The goal is just to help residents to be more mindful of the pollution their cars are producing. SoJo leaders even suggested putting up signs to help remind people to idle as little as possible. The resolution was passed with a unanimous vote.

Utah officials monitor air quality year-round. There are laws to help minimize the air quality, such as wood burning only on days with no or little pollution in the air. Other efforts include yearly emission standards and testing for automobiles. UTA TRAX and buses can help to cut the emissions. Elected officials said the transit system currently benefits very few residents due to the public’s lack of use. 

Some help may be on the way in the future, as automakers are designing gasoline-powered cars that will stop the engine each time the car is stopped; when the accelerator is activated, the car will start the motor again. Electric cars are also helpful, but the electricity for Salt Lake Valley is produced in the valley. So, while that pollution is lessened by the cars, producing electricity for the cars at the power plants still causes some pollution.

This problem will likely never be totally solved, but each person doing what he or she can when the air quality is poor could limit the pollution that becomes a significant health hazard to all of us. Instead of idling at take-out windows, perhaps going inside and waiting might be an option. Carpooling or combining errands to lessen time on the road might also help.