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Salt Lake County Expands Program to Repair Polluting Cars

Whittney Evans
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams with Jerry Lambert, owner of Jerry Lambert's Automotive.

Salt Lake County is expanding its Vehicle Repair Assistance Program, which helps qualified residents improve their cars and the air along the Wasatch Front.

State law allows drivers with cars that don’t pass an emissions test to get a waiver for the year. But as Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams points out, that car remains on the road, polluting the air.

“What I love about this program is this is government working with the private sector to help people continue to get to and from work and to get about their busy lives, but reduce the impacts in pollution they have on our community,” McAdams says.

According to the Salt Lake County health department, a vehicle that fails an emissions test is often 100 times dirtier than when its emissions systems are maintained. That means fixing a non-compliant vehicle is like taking 100 cars off the road.

This year, the county’s Vehicle Repair Assistance Program received a $300,000 grant from Tesoro that allows the county to expand the program to more than 400 residents. Vehicle owners with non-compliant vehicles will be referred to independent repair shops. Drivers who are at or below 200 percent of the poverty level can get up to $1000 to repair their non-compliant cars.  

Gary Edwards is Executive Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department. He says motor vehicle emissions account for about 50 percent of the most dangerous air pollution on the Wasatch Front, pm2.5.

“Our prolonged inversions that we’re all unfortunately very accustomed to can lead to high levels of Pm2.5 and that raises significant health concerns,” Edwards says. “Thus a very important role for the health department to be involved in trying to reduce emissions.

Eligible vehicles must be model year 1996 or newer and in otherwise good repair. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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