SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Salt Lake County gets a little help improving their air quality. A program meant to help older cars pass emissions tests was announced today.
50% of air pollution in the county is due to vehicles. While car makers are becoming more environmentally friendly in designing their vehicles, we’re adding more and more cars to our roads.
A new grant from the Tesoro Foundation will help fix people’s vehicles who don’t meet emission standards.
“When people bring in their cars for an emissions inspection and they fail an emission, they have to either repair an emission or stop driving the car, but we see a lot of people driving the cars and a lot of low-income and they really are put between a rock and a hard place,” says Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
The Tesoro Foundation will give $300,000 to the county to help ease the burden on low-income families who can’t afford to pay to fix their vehicles when they don’t pass emissions testing. In doing so, this program will help improve Salt Lake County’s air quality. The grant is meant to help expand the Vehicle Repair Assistance Program which launched last year.
“Under VRAP financial incentives are offered to low income households to repair vehicles that do not comply with emissions standards,” says Bryan Sullivan, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for the Tesoro Foundation.
Those who qualify can receive up to $1,000 in financial assistance to repair their vehicles. Qualifying vehicles must meet certain requirements and owners receive assistance on a sliding scale based on up to 300% of federal poverty guidelines.
According to the Utah Department of Health, a car that doesn’t run properly has a big impact on our health. They say it pollutes the air up to 100 times more than a car that operates as it should.
“These fine particulate matter pose high health concerns because it can pass through the nose and the throat, lodge deeply in the lungs, pass through the lungs and into the cardiovascular system. People of all ages run the risk of exposure,” says Gary Edwards, Executive Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.
In its first year the VRAP fixed more than 60 cars. According to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, VRAP will also benefit the economy and the private sector. Local auto shops will be allowed to participate to help produce cleaner more efficient vehicles for Utah’s roads.
Over the next three years and through funding by the Tesoro Foundation the county hopes to repair over 400 vehicles. According to Mayor McAdams, repairing that many vehicles is the equivalent of removing 5,000 cars from Utah’s roads.