Provo worst CO2 polluter in nation 02

Traffic flows along University Avenue near downtown Provo on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

As reported by the Daily Herald’s Connor Richards, a new study from a private company found that Provo produces more carbon dioxide per household and has a larger carbon footprint than any other metropolitan area in the United States.

We were saddened to hear that despite environmental efforts throughout the city, Provo ended up dead last. While it’s true that a likely contributing factor to the poor ranking is bigger-than-average families creating higher averages of people per household, along with BYU students living in condensed student housing, we think this study should be an alarm bell to Provo.

The analysis found that Provo households have an average of 2.1 cars that each travel an average of approximately 25,000 miles a year. It’s no secret that Provo is a commuter city — many residents travel north every day to work, which unfortunately causes huge amounts of CO2 pollution. Provo commuters can help tremendously in reducing negative environmental effects by using public transportation, especially the FrontRunner, and by carpooling when possible (because who doesn’t want to zip by morning commute bumper-to-bumper traffic in the HOV lane?).

The news that Provo has such a long way to go to improve CO2 emissions makes us even happier for the recent alternative transportation projects in the area: A big complaint among many locals is Provo’s lack of bike lanes, and the city is slowly but surely trying to solve the issue. Bulldog Boulevard, recently renamed Cougar Boulevard, just added full bike lines running both ways. And, of course, the recently incorporated Utah Valley Express rapid transit, with its frequent pickups and free fair, is a huge opportunity to increase the use of public transportation. Not only are many people utilizing UVX to get around town, but also the busses’ convenient, easy-to-use design is a great gateway to making people more comfortable with other forms of public transportation as well.

While there has been some backlash from residents on both of these projects, we hope Provo can recognize the community value and environmental value they offer, and even utilize them sometimes instead of driving cars for their inter-city travel. Because it’s no secret: Provo’s main roads could give L.A. a run for its money in congestion and traffic; alternative ways of getting around, like biking or the UVX, can save you from the frustration and road rage.

Along with UVX, BYU has incorporated its own bussing system in recent years to get off-campus students to and from campus. The Ryde, a shuttle free to students that routes its stops in correlation with BYU-approved housing around Provo, is a great boost to the environment, not to mention a big help to the crowded campus parking lots. We hope that all students who live near Ryde stops utilize this free option of transportation and forego driving to and from campus — bonus: You won’t have to spend hour upon stressful hour in your car searching for a parking spot each semester.

We could go on and on about the measures individuals could choose to make to go green, but we know that suggestions can only go so far. With Provo ranking so poorly for CO2 emissions, it’s clear that the type of significant change that is needed to help Provo get back to an environmentally healthy state will have to involve government policy to incentivize changes. We hope Provo’s elected officials keep the city’s environmental state in mind as they go about their duties. Because Provo residents deserve a healthier, happier environment to live in!

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