Environmental Committee Rejects Bill to Beef Up Air Standards

inversion01Legislation proposed to modify the rule-making authority of the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) failed to become a committee bill Wednesday. The proposed bill, suggested by Representative Becky Edwards (Republican – North Salt Lake), would authorize the DAQ to create rules that are more stringent than corresponding federal regulations if it is determined that additional regulations will provide added protections to public health and the environment.

The motion was withdrawn after members of the Natural Resources, Environment, and Agriculture Interim Committee leveled concerns about the bill.

Representative Larry Wiley (Democrat – West Valley City) believes that the bill is too far-reaching. “I support your endeavors in trying to address clean air along the Wasatch Front, but I think it goes beyond that. It effects all agencies that deal with DAQ and deal with the EPA.”

Senator Ralph Okerlund (Republican – Monroe) feels that the bill needs a committee hearing. “It’s an important bill. It’s something that we need to take a look at really closely and I don’t know if it’s ready to be a committee bill just yet.”

“Over the past thirty years, our air has continued to get better through efforts by industry, citizens, and area sources. But as we look at our growing needs in terms of population growth and energy demands in the next thirty years, we need to prepare now to meet those needs,” Edwards stated in an attempt to pass the measure.

“Utah’s unique topography and geography and weather conditions create circumstances that are unique and really require some flexibility and innovation as we create Utah’s solutions to try and meet those standards. This legislation allows for that local decision-making and control to address our local needs,” Edwards added.

Currently, Utah only has to meet minimum federal standards, which take a one-size-fits-all approach in it’s national view. States who wish to go above and beyond these requirements must pass state laws to tailor needs to the local environment.

The Wasatch Front’s summer ozone and winter smog is created by a the unique basin geography the majority of citizens call home. Air becomes trapped by high mountains and low valleys, and pollution builds in the process. A similar process takes place in the Logan and the Cache Valley in Northern Utah.

Edwards ran an identical bill during the 2014 General Session which died in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a 3-3 vote after the bill was amended to require evidence-based science behind any DAQ change, essentially gutting the bill.

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