With the specter of a carbon monoxide control plan looming in the city's future, Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins ought to be begging the county's legislative delegation to resurrect SB40.
The bill, which died Friday on the floor of the Utah House, amended the emissions inspection act. It made vehicles belonging to students attending colleges and universities subject to the county's vehicle emissions program.It also required emission inspections of vehicles belonging to school districts and state and federal agencies.
The Provo/Orem area, which is one of 41 carbon monoxide non-attainment areas in the United States, is going to need all the help it can get to cut its carbon monoxide levels.
The maximum allowable level for carbon monoxide, which comes primarily from motor vehicles, is 9 parts per million. The Environmental Protection Agency lists the Provo/Orem area's carbon monoxide level at 15.8 parts per million - in the moderate-severe category.
For perspective, Los Angeles, at 23.4 parts per million, has the country's worst carbon monoxide problem, followed by Denver at 16.2 parts per million.
Provo has violated the carbon monoxide standard since at least 1972, when the Bureau of Air Quality first began measuring pollutant levels. This past winter, Provo violated the carbon monoxide standard seven times.
Utah's Bureau of Air Quality has until November 1992 to develop a plan for reducing carbon monoxide pollution in the Provo/Orem area.
SB40 would have required two significant categories of vehicle owners - students and presently exempted government agencies - to do their part to clean up the air.
Consider, for instance, Brigham Young University, the largest institution of higher education in Utah County. Mike Harroun, BYU's director of traffic and parking services, estimates there are about 14,000 student vehicles at BYU.
Many of those vehicles belong to students who come from states or areas of Utah that do not have vehicle emission programs, and once here, they aren't subject to the county's inspection program.
Short of banning cars from the center of Happy Valley, there aren't a lot of options for achieving significant reductions in carbon monoxide levels. One promising method - using oxygenated fuels during winter months - can't be used because such fuels increase emissions of nitrogen oxides, a secondary source of fine particulate matter (PM10), another problem pollutant in Utah County.
Provo's plan for reducing carbon monoxide will most likely rely heavily on traffic management: creating one-way streets and synchronizing traffic signals to increase traffic flow, encouraging people to drive less, etc.
But it should also rely heavily on making all vehicles, including those driven by students and governmental agencies, run cleanly.
(Brooke Adams, Orem, is Utah County bureau chief for the Deseret News.)