PARK CITY — The Salt Lake City-Provo area ranks seventh on the American Lung Association's list of communities with the most short-term particle pollution in the United States — with the Logan area following close behind.
Officials say they are hard at work trying to find solutions to the problem.
"We all desperately want to see (air quality) solved," Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said Wednesday as groups kicked off a partnership to improve Utah's air quality.
Rocky Mountain Power and Summit County are joining with Park City, Salt Lake City, Uber, Lyft and Utah's Live Electric campaign and installing more than 700 electric vehicle charging stations across the Intermountain West, according to officials.
"With more than 40 percent of the emissions along the Wasatch Front coming from tailpipes, we have to work together to create a different and a better tomorrow and to keep Utah great," Rocky Mountain Power CEO Cindy Crane said.
Crane said the new charging stations at the Summit County Library are just "a small part of what's really to come" throughout the year. The groups are working on infrastructure and policies necessary to "support 50,000 more electric cars on Utah's roads over the next 10 years.
The new fast-chargers — which will create a "clean-air corridor" from the Salt Lake City International Airport to downtown Salt Lake City to Summit County — are meant to encourage ride-sharers like Uber and Lyft to adopt electric vehicles, Crane said.
The chargers will also "provide renewable energy options" for people traveling from the airport to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival and will "reduce the amount of carbon emissions added" during the event, according to officials.
"Where we have the inversions, it's much more noticeable. The area is getting cleaner, but we also realize now more than ever that it's worse for us than we thought. So people are paying attention to it more than ever," Cox said.
Responsibility for cleaning up the air belongs to both the state and local communities, Cox told reporters, adding that this partnership is "a good example."Comment on this story
"Here in the state of Utah, there's one thing we do better than just about anywhere else, and that's partnership. Seeing the private sector come together with the public sector to find new and innovative ways to solve problems is what we do," Cox said.
He added that after results of this "example" become clear, it can be implemented in other communities. "That's going to make a tremendous difference," he said. "And, of course, this is a showcase to the world."
The creation of an infrastructure should encourage people to buy electric vehicles. Those who do purchase electric vehicles become "missionaries" in promoting the vehicles, Cox said.
"Once you've had that experience, you become converted.”