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Statewide campaign sets out to 'Clean the Darn Air'

Salt Lake City with inversion pollution
The inversion is a familiar sight in Salt Lake City during the winter.

Carbon taxing - or as Clean the Darn Air campaign strategist Casey Hansen put it, “Pollution, not potatoes.”

Clean the Darn Air's proposed ballot initiative would institute a moderate carbon tax to incentivize lower carbon emissions within the state. The money generated from the tax would mainly go towards eliminating state sales tax on groceries.

Hansen said that their campaign has a real shot at getting a carbon tax initiative on the ballot in 2024.

“It's a really front-of-mind issue for a lot of people. You can't ignore it for large portions of the year, whether it's the wildfires in the summer, or whether it's inversion in the winter. It's not a theoretical thing,” Hansen said.

He says that the initiative focuses on creating the most positive outcome for everyone, even including limited carve-outs to allow Utah industries to remain competitive nationally.

Jack Podolsky, who also works as a strategist for the campaign, says they are weighing the carbon tax’s effects on individuals as well.

“We're actively working with some environmental justice groups to make sure that we're crafting a policy that's not going to negatively impact low-income communities,” Podolsky said.

According to Podolsky, their grassroots campaign of volunteers is ready to tackle the challenge ahead.

“We want to clean the darn air and that's really what everybody's focused on doing here and so we're really committed to this mission that we've set out on,” he said.

Their campaign requires signatures from all across the state and while they won’t start collecting signatures until February, they’re already working to expand their network of volunteers in every county to reach rural Utahns.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.