The Utah House Democratic Caucus released information about six new pieces of legislation Monday designed to cut air pollution that plagues the state. The legislation requires much more than a plan presented by republican Governor Gary Herbert asking individuals, government agencies and businesses to voluntarily do what they can to cut emissions, especially during inversions. Pollutants get trapped in Utah valleys, making the state home for the country’s most polluted air, sometimes four times the EPA’s particulate standard.
Utah Democrats have tried to push regulating legislation in the past, but with the terrible air quality this winter and the support of the public, they hope the republican majority in the legislature will finally support the move toward government controls.
Representative Patrice Arent-D, Salt Lake City said, “Utah citizens are asking our state government for solutions to the air quality problem. The simple answers are gone and our hope for mass, voluntary action will not bring all the changes we need.”
Arent has a bill requiring all state government agencies to create plans to reduce activities that cause air pollution, and report on any action taken so far. Along with Representative Joel Briscoe-D, Salt Lake City, Arent has requested a Clean Air Mass Transportation Fund supporting the operation and expansion of mass transit.
Briscoe is also seeking appropriations for free Utah Transit Authority passes during January and July, when air quality in Utah is at its worst, and Representative Marie Poulson-D, Salt Lake City is pushing a bill providing individual income tax credits for Utahns purchasing certain UTA passes.
Representative Lynn Hemingway-D, Salt Lake City supports legislation requiring industry to use the best available technology and equipment in order to scrub emissions, and Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck-D, Salt Lake City is seeking the lifting of restrictions on Utah’s environmental regulations, opening the door for more stringent rules and regulations whenever possible.
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Source: Utah House Democratic Caucus, Utah State Legislature, Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News