19 Proposals to Ensure a Healthy, Prosperous Future
- Boost funding for the Division of Air Quality. The DAQ needs additional resources for two critical missions: First, monitoring to better evaluate and diagnose our current air quality problems. Aging, inadequate equipment compromises our ability to map air quality levels accurately. Secondly, the DAQ doesn’t have sufficient staff to enforce the rules it has already passed, such as our current wood burning ban, or the new rules the agency passed in its last SIP addressing facilities like dry cleaners, auto body shops and printers, or its regulation of heavy industry.
- Develop a strong “serious” SIP in 2017. Utah has been violating federal health standards for more than TEN years and now has a new deadline of the end of 2017 for submitting a plan to the EPA to come into compliance. Gov. Herbert and legislative leaders must charge the state Division of Air Quality with including bold proposals in its plans, without fear that the State Legislature will then look to overrule these ideas or chastise the agency for going too far.
- End Bear River diversions. Utah must back off plans to divert more water from the Bear River, which would further the already-troubling loss of water from the Great Salt Lake. As the GSL shrinks, wind-borne dust from exposed land around the lake blows into northern Utah’s valleys, worsening air quality.
- Boost transit funding. Trax and Frontrunner are a solid spine, but Utah has much more to do — primarily by beefing up bus routes — to have mass transit be convenient to large numbers of Utahns as they travel from where they live to where they work, study, etc.
- Support electric vehicles. Utah’s EV tax credit expires this year unless the State Legislature extends it. And public policy can help extend our current EV charging infrastructure. These incentives must encourage as many Utahns as possible to drive the cleanest possible vehicles, those with a top EPA “smog rating,” until they reach a larger market share.
- Mandate statewide emissions testing. Wasatch Front’s most urban counties have mandatory testing, but tens of thousands of commuters drive into our urban valleys from other nearby counties which don’t require it. In addition, even rural Utah will struggle to meet new federal ozone standards. Statewide testing can help with both problems.
- Support biking and walking. The state should do more to Institute “complete streets” policies, which make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get where they need to go. Properly designed and zoned urban spaces can make it much easier for Utahns to choose alternatives to driving.
- Incentivize cleaner fleet vehicles. Governments and private businesses that use buses, taxis and other fleets should move as rapidly to low-emissions vehicles, primarily EVs but in some cases, Compressed Natural Gas vehicles. Public policy can incentivize these transitions.
- Institute HERS (Home Energy Rating Scores). These ratings are a market-based approach to incentivizing homeowners to buy more efficient new homes. Offering homebuyers a HERS rating will drive improvements in home construction that will lead to reduced emissions from furnaces and hot water heaters.
- Improve Utah’s building codes. Utah’s codes for new construction improved during the 2016 legislative session, but still have a long way to go to catch up to industry standard codes. Ensuring our new homes emit as little as possible is essential given Utah’s growth.
- Encourage retrofits of existing buildings. Public policy can spur improvements of the efficiency of our residential and commercial structures, via grants, loans and benchmarking programs.
- Ban polluting lawn equipment. Utah should join the local governments that have banned the sale of two-stroke, gas-powered lawn and garden equipment, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and snow blowers, in our northern Utah valleys.
- Limit wood burning. The state and local governments need to invest more resources into educating homeowners about the health effects of wood burning — and also need to put additional resources into enforcing our existing bans. In addition, policies need to limit burning of solid fuels in restaurants and other businesses.
- Control Emissions Spikes. Impose 24-hour limits on our biggest industrial polluters to prevent short-term spikes in emissions.
- Require Daily Monitoring by Big Polluters: Mandate continuous emission monitoring and annual stack testing where feasible, so that state officials and the public have greater confidence that industry is not polluting more than it is allowed.
- Ensure All Substantial New Industry Pollution Increases Gets Offset: Require facilities to find offsets within their own operations for all sizable emission increases, to ensure they can’t significantly increase their overall pollution by exploiting existing loopholes.
- Require Strong Controls on “Newly Regulated” Industry. Several dozen new commercial and industrial facilities will fall under the new “serious SIP” plan state officials will develop in 2017. Officials must require these facilities, plus the heavy industry which already fails under these rules, to institute all measures and technologies that have been demonstrated to significantly reduce pollution.
- Boost Transparency. State officials musts improve accessibility of monitoring and compliance records from the sources they regulate, so the public has faith that plans to control emissions are being met.
- Improve Control of Dust. Dust clouds that blow off industrial sites, particularly gravel pits in urban areas, contain tiny particles that add significantly to our pollution problem. Toxic and cancer-causing chemicals can be attached to dust particles, exacerbating adverse health impacts. Utah’s fugitive dust rule must be amended so that it is effective and enforceable.