The Utah Legislature’s Economic Development Task Force met for the final time Thursday morning to discuss recommendations for continued economic development success in Utah. Three pieces of draft legislation—all proposed by Representative Patrice Arent (Democrat-Millcreek)—dominated the meeting: Sustainability Amendments, Clean Air Funds, and Electric Vehicle Battery Charging Service Amendments.
The Sustainability Amendments would require Governor Herbert (Republican) to appoint a sustainability director to serve with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. The sustainability director’s job would be to work with state agencies to implement sustainability measures.
Clean Air Funds would modify the existing Clean Fuels and Technology Program, to allow electric-hybrid vehicles to be eligible for the program and create the Clean Air Retrofit, Repower, and Off-road Technology Fund (CARROT). The new program would provide grant money for heavy-duty diesel retrofits, repowers, and replacements; the installation of technologies that have been verified to reduce air emissions; and develop programs to encourage the replacement of landscaping, maintenance, and other equipment with cleaner alternatives.
The Electric Vehicle Battery Charging Amendments would provide that the definition of “public utility” does not include businesses that sell charging services for the batteries of electric vehicles.
Senator Stuart Reid (Republican – Ogden) was not impressed with recent media reports about Utah’s air quality being at its worst and severely impacting economic development. “[That is] factually not true,” said Reid, also calling the reports “fear-mongering” by the Utah press. Senator Pat Jones (Democrat – Holladay) responded to Reid sharply, “Tell that to our citizens, because air quality has now risen to one of the top five issues in our state. It is impacting our citizens and it is absolutely impacting people that are wanting to come here and stay here.”
“This is not crying wolf,” Jones went on to say. “I wouldn’t want to walk away today thinking that all of us believe it’s fear-mongering. I happen to disagree with that quite strongly. I do respect that opinion of others that might feel that way, but I couldn’t disagree more with that personally.”
The final task force report and their recommendation on Arent’s bills, will be presented on November 20 to the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee and the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee.