A recurring theme every Utah legislative session is air quality. The session usually ends up running around the same time as an inversion along the Wasatch Front making the issue front and center in everyone’s mind. Here’s a quick roundup of the legislation attempting to do more about it.
This bill extended credits for energy efficient vehicles, but it also goes further in creating a new fund for converting existing vehicles to using cleaner fuel sources. This fund will start with a $500K appropriation for grants and is allowed to accept private contributions to the fund for anyone who would like to support it. It’s required to deposit any earned interest into the fund up to a maximum of $10M.
It’s a pretty common refrain to spend more money on air quality. How about a chance to put your money where your mouth is? HB237 creates a new Clean Air Fund and allows everyone filing a tax return in Utah to voluntarily contribute to it. The funds are distributed via UCAIR to efforts to improve air quality in the state.
Instead of large, sweeping changes, the legislature tends to make small, incremental ones that add up to a difference. Rep. Redd’s bill is another one of those bills. It seeks to lower nitrogen oxide emissions from water heaters sold in Utah. The average cost of a water heater would increase around $150, but PM2.5-producing emissions would drop around 75%.
We all know that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces aren’t a great idea for air quality. Rep. Cox’s bill appears to allow additional selling ones that don’t adhere to federal EPA regulations provided that they do adhere to the federal Clean Air Act. I’m not sure what he’s trying to accomplish here, though it doesn’t appear to either reduce the number of wood-burning devices or the emissions from them. It seems like a curious choice when most efforts are on cutting back.
The Air Conservation Act currently allows fines of up to $10K per day per violation. If passed, SB66 would increase those fines to $26K. Increased penalties could have a deterrent effect on polluters and it could create additional funding that could be used to fund clear air programs.