Monday, November 23, 2015

Air Quality: Clean Fuels Program Makes Dollars and Sense

By: Mat Carlile

You’ve probably noticed the change. Hybrids seem to be everywhere. Electric charging stations have suddenly appeared near the entrance to your grocery store. A CNG fueling station opened down the street from your office. Your neighbor plugs his car into an outlet in his carport.

All these changes are signs that, more and more, Utah residents are choosing to drive alternative fuel vehicles to lower their emissions and lower their costs. But did you know that you can get a tax credit when you purchase an alternative fuel vehicle? That’s just one of the incentives the state is offering to make it easier and more convenient to drive a plug-in hybrid, electric, or CNG car.

Utah is committed to making alternative fuel vehicles an easy and attractive choice for residents. Governor Gary Herbert designated November as Alternative Fuel Vehicle Awareness Month to encourage residents to consider driving an alt-fuel vehicle. The state, which current has 287 alternative fueling stations available for the public, is leading the charge to create a CNG transportation corridor along I-15 and is expanding the electric, liquefied natural gas, and propane infrastructure across Utah. In addition, the state legislature passed a bill in 2014 requiring the Division of Fleet Operations to have 50 percent or more of state vehicles that are used to transport passengers be alternative fuel or high efficiency vehicles.

Businesses are getting involved as well. Rocky Mountain Power just announced an initiative to bring 20,000 more electric cars to Utah over the next ten years. Questar Gas has opened 26 CNG stations throughout Utah along with a new fueling station in West Valley City equipped with high-speed, high-volume fueling for medium- and heavy-duty CNG trucks.

Photo credit: Deseret News
The Division of Air Quality does its part by administering the Clean Fuels Program, which offers a variety of funding mechanisms — including grants, loans, and tax credits for individuals, businesses, and local governments — to help reduce vehicle emissions. Two of these programs offer tax credits specifically for alternative fuel vehicles:

Clean Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit

The state offers a tax credit for motor vehicles that meet certain air quality and fuel economy standards. Taxpayers may claim a non-refundable credit on their individual income tax, corporate franchise tax, or fiduciary tax returns for the purchase or conversion of vehicles that use cleaner burning fuels.

Natural Gas Heavy Duty Vehicle Tax Credit

The state provides a tax credit for the qualified purchase of a natural gas heavy-duty vehicle (category 7 or 8 vehicle) that has never been titled or registered.

Although alternative fuel vehicles may in some cases cost more than a gasoline-powered vehicle, they are a good bargain in the long run. The combination of tax credits, greater fuel efficiency, and lower fuel costs make these cars an attractive option. Most importantly, your purchase of an alternative fuel vehicle improves our air quality. And that’s a benefit that helps us all breathe a little easier.

Interested in purchasing a clean vehicle but not sure where to begin? Consider purchasing a SmartWay vehicle. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates each new car, truck, and SUV for greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions on a scale from 1 to 10. For more information about clean fuel vehicle tax credits or DEQ’s Clean Fuels Program, visit our webpage.

I have worked with the Utah Division of Air Quality for 10 years. I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University. My wife Carrie and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in June. We have four children. I love reading, investigating history, traveling, and playing basketball, volleyball, football, and ultimate Frisbee.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

DEQ’s Brand Reflects What We Do and Why It Matters

By: Donna Kemp Spangler

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has existed for nearly 25 years, yet it is one of the most misunderstood agencies in state government. No, we are not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We don’t regulate odors, sell Christmas tree permits, or put out wildfires. Smokey the Bear does not work for us.

We are the vanguard protecting Utah’s water, air and land. Our employees are hard at work when there is needed clean-up of environmental messes, past and present.

DEQ hopes to change common misperceptions while renewing our commitment of excellence to the individuals, families and communities of Utah. We hope to enhance awareness of our continuing mission: “Safeguarding human health and quality of life by protecting and enhancing the environment,” while providing the critical scientific data that will help ensure protection of Utah’s natural wonder.

On Nov. 18, Executive Director Alan Matheson introduced DEQ employees to the agency’s renewed brand promise and visual I.D which will more clearly define who we are and what we do. We also want you to know that we are listening. We understand your love for Utah and its unique environments, and we hope to better engage with you as the state’s most valued environmental partner.

When I'm talking about brand, I mean the mental image that pops into your mind when you think DEQ. It is not a catchy slogan. Put simply, our brand is both a promise of excellence and the way we are thought of. Our new look, including a logo, is the visual expression of those things.

Our new brand has been a year-in-the-making, backed up with market research. Coming to us with a marketing background, our Deputy Director of Communications Amy Christensen analyzed the results from numerous internal and external surveys, pulled concepts and insights from the data, and worked with Struck, who further refined DEQ’s brand strategy and developed all visual elements of the new “look and feel.” Struck is a local creative agency that received accolades for its ‘Mighty 5’ parks campaign for the Utah Office of Tourism.

Dannielle Blumenthal, director of Digital Engagement for the Office of Innovation at The National Archives, writes: “Branding is a “legitimate government activity.” She notes, “The distinction between government branding and branding in the private sector is that government branding always comes down to trust, whereas private sector branding is essentially about making a profit.”

And we are all about building trust.

As mentioned above, the greatest challenge facing DEQ is low awareness. For the most part, those people who are aware of the Department view us positively and eagerly want to know what they can do to improve the environment. Utahns have a sense of pride in living in a beautiful environment and they strive to protect it. In many ways, DEQ’s research reflects the findings of Envision Utah’s “Your Utah,Your Future” survey results.

The challenge ahead, however, is engaging more of the public in our efforts to improve air quality, drinking water and so on. There are not enough of us engaged.

So what is DEQ?

We are a state regulatory entity made up of scientists and engineers dedicated and vigilant about their responsibility to protect and enhance our environment. DEQ employees take pride in providing science-based information to help drive decisions that will make Utah a better place to live and work. We do this by taking a rational, reasonable and balanced approach in a thoughtful way that is responsive to the needs of Utahns. In essence, our brand says, “DEQ is a trustworthy source of reliable information from people who tirelessly work to protect Utah’s natural wonder in order to improve Utah communities, and the lives of individuals and families.”

DEQ’s Communications Office now faces the challenge of making the new brand part of every Utahn’s thought process. When you think DEQ, we want you to remember us as a trustworthy source of science-based environmental information important to each and every resident.

Every time you turn on your tap water, you have trust that it is safe to drink. We want to give you the information as to why it is safe to drink.

I welcome your input on DEQ’s new look. Comments and questions are encouraged. Feel free to email me at or comment here on this blog.

I am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write a monthly blog post. You can read my previous blog posts here at You can follow me on Twitter @deqdonna

Monday, November 16, 2015

Air Quality: DEQ Uses CARROT to Reduce Emissions

By: Lisa Burr

Photo credit:
The inversion season is upon us. It’s the time when we notice and curse the pollution that fills our cold, wintery skies. As if the cold isn’t bad enough, we have to breathe the dirty air, sometimes so bad we can taste it. The public relies on the Department of Environmental Quality for solutions to the air quality challenges we face. One of the solutions DEQ uses is the CARROT (Clean Air Retrofit, Replacement, and Off-Road Technology) Program.

The CARROT Program was enacted in 2014 by the state legislature to encourage individuals, businesses, local governments, and school districts to reduce emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines and non-road equipment. Last year, DEQ awarded a combination of $100,000 in grants to five entities for retrofitting or replacing heavy-duty equipment.The results were 17 tons of annual emissions reductions.

In addition, the Lawn Mower Discount and Exchange Program was held last spring to provide incentives for individuals to purchase electric lawnmowers at a discounted price with an added incentive for those who exchanged a gasoline lawnmower for an electric mower. The event was an overwhelming success, with online reservations for mowers closing after only a few hours. There were 388 individuals who participated, resulting in a minimum 3.58 tons of annual emissions reductions.

This year, DEQ is dividing the CARROT Program into three segments:
The grant funding focuses on heavy-duty diesel fleets such as long-haul or delivery trucks, refuse haulers, equipment used for operation in construction, agriculture, energy production, rail, or ground-support equipment at airports, just to name a few.

The school bus replacement program dedicates $300,000 for diesel school bus replacements to provide school districts with funding to replace old, heavy-polluting school buses with new buses that meet the cleanest emissions standards. 

State funding for school districts to purchase new buses was cut in 2010. It has been a challenge since then for the school districts, which have had to rely on local funding for their transportation needs without assistance from the state. As a result, polluting buses continue to operate in our communities, exposing schoolchildren to elevated concentrations of unhealthy diesel exhaust that enters the passenger area of the bus.This funding will target older buses for replacement to ensure that the most polluting buses are replaced first. 

An additional $687,144 was awarded to DEQ through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Clean Diesel Campaign to replace diesel school buses along the Wasatch Front.

The discount and exchange program for landscape equipment will occur in Spring 2016. We will post additional information on the specifics of the exchange at a later date.

Applications for heavy-duty diesel fleets and school buses must be submitted to DEQ by 11:59 p.m. on December 17, 2015. Application details are available at on our website. The funding awards will be announced January 25, 2016.

I have worked for the Division of Air Quality for six years. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree from Weber State University and was employed there for 13 years before coming to DAQ.I enjoy cooking, entertaining, camping, and traveling.