Air quality remains a critical economic issue for Utah’s business community, which is why companies large and small from throughout the state are leading the way to address these challenges. From incentivizing employees to reduce their vehicle trips to improving building energy efficiency or installing electric vehicle charging stations, the business community continues to work together to find solutions that best fit their company culture and employee and customer needs; illustrating that together, businesses can make a difference for our air. While there is no silver bullet to solving air quality concerns, one of the most impactful changes is that Utah’s refineries are choosing to switch to the production of cleaner Tier 3 fuels. (To learn more about Tier 3 fuels, refer to this white paper written by the Governor’s Environmental Advisor Alan Matheson).

Utah is home to three locally owned and operated and two national refineries, all of which play an important role in the state’s continued economic competitiveness. According to the Utah Foundation, 90 percent of the gasoline sold in the state comes from a Utah or Wyoming refinery. This means that the full implementation, with cleaner vehicles, of Tier 3 fuel would result in significant vehicle emissions reductions–essentially taking 4 out of every 5 cars off the road.

Even without the newer vehicles, the Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that Tier 3 fuel will immediately reduce mobile emissions between 7 to 11 percent. This means that the move to Tier 3 fuels represents an immediate and long-term difference for our air quality and in turn, our economy and quality of life.

Utah’s largest refinery, Chevron, has long been at the forefront of efforts to positively address air quality along the Wasatch Front. Recently, the company announced its commitment to reconfigure their North Salt Lake refinery to produce and sell Tier 3 fuels by the end of 2019. This a significant step forward in Utah’s efforts to improve air quality, helping to reduce vehicle tailpipe emissions, the largest contributor of emissions in the state.

The EPA allows for considerable flexibility for the nationally operated refineries. If not for the recent steps taken by Chevron, Utah would not enjoy the full benefits of these cleaner fuels. This also demonstrates the company’s commitment to improving our air and providing the best possible quality gasoline for Utah consumers.

Of course, switching to Tier 3 fuel production is only one tool to help solve Utah’s air quality challenges. Chevron has employed a multi-faceted strategy to ensure they do their part as a corporate citizen to make a difference across the state. For example, since 1990, Chevron has reduced its facility emissions by 90 percent while producing more quality and affordable fuels for its customers. In addition, the company actively works to develop new projects that will further reduce its emissions. One of the most exciting ways Chevron supports improving local air quality is through their $300,000 investment in various Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) programs which primarily focus on addressing area source emissions — helping all of us do our part to improve Utah’s air quality.

Chevron serves as a strong example of business leadership by recognizing there are various ways to solve air quality problems. The actions taken such as announcing their plan to produce Tier 3 fuels, investing in air quality education and outreach programs and doing their part to reduce their facility’s emissions will continue to benefit the state’s economy and make a positive impact on Utahns quality of life for years to come.  

Click here to see Lane Beattie’s statement at the announcement of Chevron’s decision.