The House Natural Resources Committee took steps towards allowing Utah Department of Air Quality (DAQ) under the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to consider standards different from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bill sponsor Representative Becky Edwards (Republican – Bountiful) spoke on behalf of HB 226 – Air Quality Revisions on Friday calling the bill an important step towards improving the Wasatch Front’s air quality.
The bill modifies air quality law, giving the DAQ and DEQ the ability to establish standards that exceed federal standards.
After a large showing of public support, ranging from board members of the DAQ and DEQ to individual members of the Clean Air Coalition, Representative Mike Noel (Republican – Kanab) had many questions for Edwards.
Noel questioned the motivation behind the bill, citing the EPA’s laws being an example of intervention he considered to be unnecessary.
“I want to believe you, that you’re doing the right thing, but you’ve got to convince me,” Noel said, “because I represent a whole lot of people that don’t have any faith in what the federal government’s doing right now.” Noel continued calling the DAQ and DEQ just another hurdle for corporations to overcome.
Edwards countered and noted that Noel’s concept was the wrong way to look at the issue. Edwards stated that her bill would provide local controls for local problems, asking Noel if he would rather deal with the EPA or the DAQ/DEQ. Edwards, the daughter of LaVell Edwards, then provided a football analogy, to which Noel proclaimed “now I get it.”
Noel, along with other committee members, were hesitant on the term “stringent” in the bill. After a long conversation regarding synonyms and antonyms of the word, it was amended to use the word “different” would be used – meaning that the DEQ could pass rules that were different from federal standards.
Edward’s bill would pass unanimously and will be considered by the full House.