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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah has seen its fair share of bad air days this winter. Improving the state's air quality may seem like a daunting task, but government leaders say it's the small things that can have a big impact.
Transportation emissions are responsible for 50 percent of ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog.
Gov. Gary Herbert and local mayors are urging everyone to take on the "Clean Air Challenge." Leaders say we can all do our part to improve the air we breathe.
"We need to throw down the gauntlet and challenge people," Herbert said.Herbert and local community leaders teamed up on the Capitol steps in the fight against bad air. He said, "We can all do more." The governor said he couldn't do it alone and needed our help.
"Improving the quality of the air we breathe is every Utahns' responsibility," says Herbert.
The changes don't have to be huge. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says Utahns can take on the "Clean Air Challenge" by doing small things, like taking mass transit or carpooling."Ask, can we walk somewhere? Can we ride a bike somewhere? All of us can be doing things, I guess, we're just asking people to be conscious of that particularly when we have bad air pollution on winter days," says Becker. UTA has accepted the challenge. February 12 will be "Learn to Ride Day." FrontRunner, TRAX, and buses in six counties will be free of charge. The goal is to get people who may not use mass transit to try it out.
"Maybe there's a bus that's driving down their street for 10 years and they've always thought, I should try that sometime, and they never had. Now we're taking away the reason not to try it. Come out and try it out on that free day, and if it works for you maybe you'll come back and try it twice a week and reduce carbon footprint," says Gerry Carpenter, spokesman for UTA.
Leaders from South Jordan, West Valley, Holladay and Provo also pledged their support of cleaner air and blue skies.
"Just like sports, if we want to prevail in being blue we have to work hard, we have to plan and be visionary," said Provo City Mayor John Curtis.