BYU is not prepared - or willing at present - to ask students to come to Provo without their vehicles, says R.J. Snow, administrative vice president over student life.
To cut carbon monoxide emissions from the university, BYU is converting its coal-fired boilers to natural gas. It also is converting three vehicles to natural gas in a test program of alternate fuels.And BYU continues to ask out-of-state students to submit their vehicles to emissions inspections, and it makes streets one-way on football and basketball game days to handle traffic around the university.
But the university thinks county officials should take the lead in developing policies for reducing carbon monoxide levels from vehicles, Snow said in a Deseret News interview.
"To the extent automobile exhaust contributes, we've done not all we could do, but some things to move the traffic away expeditiously," Snow said.
At the present, there is not a reasonable alternative other than the automobile for students traveling to BYU, he said.
The Utah Transit Authority does not have enough buses or routes to handle the demand that would be created by a vehicle ban, Snow said.
Snow called a proposal by BYU professors Cory Teuscher and Scott Woodward that student vehicles be banned "well intentioned."
Teuscher is not backing off on his push for a vehicle ban and is asking BYU officials to actively seek cutting car use by holding "environmental awareness seminars" for incoming freshman. The seminars would "educate students about the health risks associated with air pollution in Utah Valley as well as provide information about alternate means of transportation," such as UTA.
Teuscher also wants BYU to send letters to freshmen and returning students' parents, asking them to not let their children bring vehicles to school.
But Snow said ultimate decisions related to vehicle use at BYU would be directed to the entire campus community and tied to county and state policies.
"We really think that since the policy context in which we'll have to fit will be county or state policy. It would be helpful if the county people would take the lead," Snow said. "Obviously, we aren't ready to implement something like that (a student vehicle ban) without a lot more study."
Snow said BYU is not "in a mode at the present where we have active studies to do this. It hasn't been a high priority. It would be wrong to say we've now moved everything else on our priority list and this is now at the top."
When local and state political leaders and health officials begin developing means of controlling carbon monoxide emissions, BYU will be "responsive and willing to participate," Snow said.
Teuscher plans to propose to the state Bureau of Air Quality that it include vehicle limitations as part of the state implementation plan for reducing carbon monoxide.
And, in response to a request from Teuscher, the City-County Health Department is drafting a letter for its board to approve that will ask large businesses and schools to give employees incentives to give up their vehicles.
"I don't think the board wants to come out and specifically say it likes what is being proposed to BYU," said Dr. Joseph Miner, director. "Some of the ideas are extreme."
Still, the Health Department is in favor of encouraging employers to start thinking about cutting single vehicle use.
Reducing automobile pollution should be an effort led by Utah County officials, says R.J. Snow, a Brigham Young University vice president, and not just unilateral action, such as prohibiting college students from driving cars to campus.