Thousands of state employees will work from home through Wednesday in an effort to help clean up Utah’s air.
Under the state’s new teleworking program, state employees who can work remotely are required to do so on “mandatory action days,” which are determined by Utah’s Division of Air Quality based on concerns of air quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided data that showed Salt Lake County saw a significant increase in the number of good air quality days and a decrease in bad air quality days throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeff Mottishaw, the managing director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said state officials’ idea was to take everything they “learned during COVID and teleworking at these high levels and use it in a proactive way” to help Utah’s air quality.
The new program is not free of flaws, Mottishaw said. When “mandatory action day” notices are sent on a weekday, it isn’t rare for some state employees to miss the notice. The largest limitation, however, is the small size of the program. It’s going to take more people working remotely to truly tackle Utah's air quality issues.