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Guv hands keys to nonprofit to drive air-quality improvements

Published June 11, 2013 6:55 pm

Environment • UCAIR expects to offer grants, loans for projects that help people pollute less.
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West Valley City • Gov. Gary Herbert formally spun off the state's air-quality improvement campaign Tuesday into an independent, nonprofit organization.

His year-old Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) will harness the best practices of business, industry, government and other nonprofits to drive innovation and educate people about what they can do to improve Utah's sometimes "gunky" air, the governor said.

"We all have an opportunity," said Herbert at a news conference at Fairbourne Station Plaza, flanked by elementary school students who'd chipped in air-sparing ideas. "We all have a responsibility to do better."

The governor introduced the nonprofit's new executive director, Shawni McAllister. He also presented the group's executive board, which includes representatives from Kennecott Utah Copper, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the University of Utah, the Uintah County Economic Development office, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Breathe Utah and the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, along with his environmental adviser and deputy chief of staff.

The announcement took place on the plaza outside West Valley City Hall, with TRAX trains coming and going on one side and transit buses hustling in and out on the other. A tent held students from Logan, Vernal, West Valley, Santa Clara and a University of Utah camp who'd colored fliers advising people to bike instead of drive, avoid idling and plant trees.

But the organization intends a more sophisticated message as its projects gather steam. It has already beefed up its Web page to include measures to help clean up the air at home, at work and in the community.

Soon, it expects to be offering grants and loans for voluntary projects that help people pollute less, share innovative programs and perhaps even develop promising clean-air technologies. Rob Paine, a pulmonologist and member of the Utah Air Quality Board, is spearheading that program. He hopes the partnership will be able to show soon that it can make a measurable difference.

"Together," said McAllister, "we can and will make a difference."


Twitter: @judyfutah






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