SALT LAKE CITY — Lt. Governor Spencer Cox says Utah's air is cleaner than it has ever been in his life.
But it still isn't clean enough, he said.
Cox spoke on the importance of taking small steps to decrease pollution Tuesday as Rocky Mountain Power, Utah Clean Air Partnership and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality announced a new program where Utahns can trade in their old gas snowblowers for a discount of up to 75 percent on a new electric one.
Running a gas snowblower for an hour emits as much pollution as driving a car 339 miles, according to Rocky Mountain Power.
Until Oct. 11, Utah residents can apply for the discount at UCAIR.org, and recipients will be notified Oct. 15 and 16.
Those who have a gas snowblower to exchange can purchase a Greenworks 80V cordless snowblower for $69 plus taxes and fees, or $169 without a trade-in. It normally costs around $300 at Lowe's or $265 on Amazon.
Thom Carter, the executive director of Utah Clean Air Partnership, said the organization has just over 400 electric snowblowers available for purchase through the program. Funding is provided by Rocky Mountain Power and the Department of Environmental Quality, and a partnership with Lowe's for discounted prices on the machines.
Cox said making the change is one small way Utah can work on improving its air quality.
"These two-cycle engines are terrible," Cox said. "They're far worse for the environment … than even some of the big trucks you see driving down the road."
One winter of gas-powered snowblowing, Carter said, is like driving a car 2,700 miles — about the distance from Los Angeles to Miami.
Cox said making Tier 3 gasoline and compatible vehicles available is currently one of the state's biggest environmental initiatives. This cleaner fuel is like taking 4 out of every 5 cars off the road, he said.
"This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue," Cox said. "We have to do more."
Both Cox and Carter echoed that there is no single big fix for Utah's air, but that every effort adds up to make a big difference.
"Just like every use of a gas-powered snowblower pollutes our air," Carter said, "every single act to reduce pollution and emissions can just as quickly add up to cleaner air."
Department of Environmental Quality executive director Alan Matheson echoed Cox's initial statement, saying emissions across the Wasatch Front have decreased 35 percent over the past 10 years — but that they can't declare victory yet.
Switching from gas to electric-powered snowblowers also saves users money.
James Campbell, policy and project adviser at Rocky Mountain Power, said it costs around $0.50 to fully charge the Greenworks 80V battery, which would equate to about a gallon, or $3 in gas, for a traditional snowblower.