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Clear the Air Challenge Begins Tuesday

Steven Vance
Flickr Creative Commons


The sixth annual Clear the Air Challenge begins on Tuesday.  The idea is to help people learn what they can do to help protect the air from pollution. 

July is a big month for Jonathan Johnson. He’s chairman of the board of and he leads the Salt Lake Chamber’s clean-air committee. The pressure’s on because his company edged out perennial rivals Fidelity Investments and ADP to clinch last year’s Clear the Air Challenge in the corporation category.

“We would love to be dethroned by anyone who can better us,” Johnson says. “Everyone will be a winner if some company can save more trips than Overstock has in the past and will again this year. But we don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Organizers hope more people will opt to take up the challenge and do less driving. By leaving their cars and trucks behind, participants avoided more than 23,000 lbs. of emissions last year. That's 176,193 fewer trips and nearly 2 million miles not driven.

Instead, people hopped on TRAX or the bus. They car-pooled or telecommuted. This year Johnson hopes enhanced social media tools will draw more people into the challenge.

“I think a lot of people want to help,” Johnson says. “They just aren’t aware of it, or they don’t know how. And the social media aspect of this, I think, is going to be a big help.”

Dozens of corporations, offices, university programs, families and individuals already say they're taking part..

Cars and trucks produce roughly half of northern Utah’s pollution, so all the avoided trips add up.

Financial consultant Angelica Hitzeman is happy the contest is making a difference even though she won’t be participating.

“Part of the problem that holds me back from using public transportation as opposed to just driving my car is the cost,” she says.

The challenge begins July 1 and runs through the end of the month.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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