Utah's reputation for poor air quality is driving people and businesses away. In the social information age, "Greatest Snow on Earth" has been replaced by "Worst Air in the U.S."
I know two families who are leaving Utah specifically because of the air quality. My wife and I have talked about it, too, as have a couple of other families. "Good riddance," some will say, but that attitude has economic dollars attached to it.
The combined incomes of these five families over 10 years approaches $8 million. We would purchase $400,000 in Utah goods and services over the same period. Philanthropically, our charitable donations to Utah nonprofits would be on the order of $100,000.
I don't say this to brag the state will carry on without us. But we live in an increasingly mobile society, and if I know five families, there are at least 1,000 more statewide that represent hundreds of millions of dollars in income, purchases, tax revenue, donations, volunteer hours, and the jobs behind them.
Utah needs to take good faith action without reinventing the wheel other states have solved this. We can, too.
Herman Van Dunly