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Students Gather at State Capitol to Demand Clean Air

Nicole Nixon

Hundreds of elementary school students met at the state capitol on Thursday morning asking for solutions to the state’s air quality problem.  

Fifth graders from the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City marched several blocks in the snow from their school to the Capitol demanding cleaner air. More than a dozen of those students asked lawmakers to pass legislation that would improve overall air quality.

Peter Stokes was one of those 5th graders. He says he doesn’t like when he and his classmates are forced to stay inside for recess on days with poor air quality.

“I don’t like it,” he says. “I love the outdoors, I love climbing, I am a big fan of almost everything outside. So I do not like it. “

Students from the Madeleine Choir School, the Salt Lake Arts Academy and other schools called on state leaders to provide tax incentives for electric vehicles and energy efficient homes as well as tighter restrictions on industrial polluters. They pointed out that regular people could do their part by turning off vehicles rather than idling, carpooling, and turning down the thermostat at home.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski was there supporting the students. She spoke to legislators on their behalf.

“It is time for this legislature to take significant steps to clearing our air,” she said. “And we will get there if you do your jobs today.”

Several lawmakers watched the rally from balconies in the Capitol. Democratic Representative Patrice Arent applauded the kids’ efforts.

“I am so glad you are here to call on the legislature to do better,” she told the students. “Because the laws that we pass here have a bigger impact on you than they do on us.”

Arent co-chairs the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, which is supporting over a dozen bills regarding air pollution this legislative session.

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