Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – This week many Utahns have been dealing with the most unhealthy air in the country, and that was a big focus on Capitol Hill Thursday.
The bipartisan Clean Air Caucus rolled out its agenda for the session. The plan is to take small steps to help clean up our dirty air.
One look outside and it’s clear, the air is anything but.
“It’s my understanding our air quality in Salt Lake City and Provo was the worst in the nation over the last two days. That’s not always the case, but right now this is not healthy,” said Representative Patrice Arent, (D) Salt Lake City.
As a medical doctor, Senator Brian Shiozawa sees the consequences from the front lines.
“We see so much in the way of increased respiratory illness, in terms of exacerbation of bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, those who have COPD, these people are at high risk,” said Shiozawa, (R) Salt Lake City.
That’s in part why Arent formed the caucus nearly four years ago.
It brings republicans and democrats together for a common cause.
“Everyone wanted to work together, because the air we breathe isn’t democratic air or republican air. We’re all breathing this bad air today,” said Arent.
This year the caucus is presenting a number of bills, resolutions and appropriations.
The proposals include cleaner school buses and vehicles, grants for high polluting vehicles, solar access amendments and a bill to control pollution from constructing the new state prison.
There’s also a resolution calling on Utahns to be more mindful of the smog rating on their vehicle.
“If we just increase that from an average of a 5 up to an 8, we could decrease, by 80% the emissions on the Wasatch Front,” said Shiozawa.
Little steps that are part of a big goal.
“Yes, we are making a difference. Our air is improving. Is it improving enough? No. Do we have a lot more work to do? Yes,” said Arent.
Another message is it takes all of us doing our part to make a difference. Simple steps include turning down the heat when we’re not home, using public transit and carpooling when possible.