One key arena for pushing for positive measures to help clean the Wasatch Front’s dirty air is the State Legislature. Each spring when they meet, Utah’s legislature has its hands on everything from funding transit, to incentivizing cleaner vehicles, to controlling building codes, to determining the rules and budgets for the agencies that monitor and control industrial pollution.
In 2013, HEAL leapt headfirst into helping a small group of legislators develop proposals for the 2014 Legislative Session. And, ultimately, it was easily the most successful year ever for air quality legislation— thanks to your activism, the efforts of the clean air community and, especially, the dedication of a core group of State Legislators.
Since 2013, HEAL has grown to be one of the most influential and effective advocacy groups at the State Legislature. Here are just a few accomplishments from the 2016 session:
- We helped to ensure a transition to cleaner burning hot water heaters. This important legislation, which required the phasing in of ultra-low NOx water heaters, will significantly help to reduce pollution from our building sector — the sector projected to soon become our largest source of emissions.
- Similarly, in just 24 hours, our members sent over 2,000 emails asking key Utah State Legislators to adopt commonsense updates to our energy code. Although we still have a lot of room for improvement, for reduced building emissions and improved efficiency, HEAL successfully pushed for substantial changes.
- Finally, HEAL was instrumental in pushing legislators to increase the amount of time allotted to our state regulators to prosecute companies that violate their permit limits. Instead of only having a one year statute of limitations, Utah now has a two-year statute of limitations to prosecute these polluters.
We are proud of these accomplishments, but this is only the beginning. HEAL’s policy team is already busy researching and vetting new bills to champion for the 2017 session.
Work To Do
Despite our past successes, several key measures failed last year— proposals that we think could have had even greater impact for years to come. One of those was an appropriation request to update our aging fleet of air quality monitoring equipment. Of the $2.2 million dollars in funding requested, only $1 million was allocated. Additionally, an important Division of Air Quality program called CARROT failed to receive any financing to help replace and retrofit some of the most polluting small engines. We are already working hard to generate grassroots pressure to support these essential programs during the 2017 session.
And so, as we get closer to next year’s legislative session, much work remains to be done to build on last year’s successes. HEAL continues to work hard to encourage legislators to make clean air bills a priority, to research and champion innovative proposals and to strategize to build winning coalitions.
Clean air is a nonpartisan issue – and with your help, we’re going to continue to chip away at the obstacles to making northern Utah as pristine, safe and beautiful as it can be.
Recent Posts about Clean Air Legislation…
Good morning on a lovely spring day in the Salt Lake Valley.
It's that time of year when we let you know how your State Legislators voted on clean air and clean energy bills this past session. Sorry it's taken a few weeks to get these out: It's a surprising amount of work to tabulate votes on more than a dozen bills from more than 100 legislators.
Click here to see the full grades (listing marks here for 104 legislators would be too much) but here's a quick recap.
The bills we tabulated are ones you likely recall from the session. There were bills we supported which limited emissions from diesel vehicles or defended rooftop solar, and bills we opposed, one making it harder to limit the hazards of wood smoke. Those, plus others affecting our air and our climate, formed the basis of these grades.
So how did the legislature do? Well, there was a tremendous range, including lots of As and plenty of Fs. The average member of the House got a C+, while the average Senator a B-.
HEAL is a nonpartisan organization: We don't endorse candidates or any particular political party. But, we would point out that generally Democrats did do better than Republicans. However, plenty of Republicans did receive As and Bs, demonstrating that support for clean air and clean energy does thankfully often cross partisan lines.
So, the most important part of this is where you get to see how your representatives voted, so click here to find that out! And if you have any questions about the grades, please email our policy director Ashley Soltysiak at email@example.com
Let me tell you about a few other developments here at HEAL.
First, we would like to thank everyone who donated to HEAL during the statewide giving competition Love Utah Give Utah. We are again delighted to report that HEAL performed very well and every gift made a difference! We received nearly 400 donations and ended up in 3rd place in our giving category, which includes very popular animal organizations (Woof!). The result earned us an additional $1,250.
So, thank you! We are humbled by the support of so many of you raising nearly $20k. If you didn't get a chance to give last Thursday, please click here to support HEAL.
Okay, now on to some important notes.
- First, if you or anyone you know is interested in applying for a HEAL Utah summer internship, there's only a few more days to do so. We are hiring several interns this summer to support our grassroots and policy work. Applications are due this coming Sunday April 16! Click here for more info.
- Next, HEAL has been quoted in many news stories recently about major developments in our key campaigns and we wanted to draw your attention to a few of those. First, when governor Herbert signed HB65, that bad wood smoke bill, HEAL expressed dismay, especially given the opposition to the bill from the independent Air Quality Board. As Ashley told the Salt Lake Tribune, "It's baffling that Gov. Herbert ignored the advice of the diverse panel of air quality experts he appointed. The message this new law sends is it's open season for deep-pocketed businesses who want to gut air quality policy."
- However, we also gave the Governor credit when he vetoed HB11, the bill that would have made it so that our key environmental boards could have been stocked with members of just one party. We appreciate the Governor's decision to not sign into law that particular bill, as we told Fox 13.
- Next, when Rocky Mountain Power released its plan last week for how it plans to get electricity over the next 20 years, HEAL reacted strongly tothe utility's decision to ignore the federal "regional haze" ruling requiring it to clean up its coal power plants (see SL Trib coverage). We also highlighted its decision to keep those plants burning for another 20 or 30 years (see Deseret News coverage). The utility did commit to installing some more wind and solar, which is a positive step in the right direction, but it's dedication to burning dirty coal for decades longer is unacceptable.
- Speaking of unacceptable things, let's turn to President Trump, who announced two weeks ago that his administration would eliminate President Obama's signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan. The president did so claiming he was looking to bring back coal jobs, which we pointed out in the Deseret News aren't coming back. "President Trump and his allies have to choose between pretending they can bring coal back — or getting to the hard work of actually figuring out how to help rural communities suffering from major economic shifts,” Pacenza said.
On all these issues, HEAL is proud to be your voice, fighting for public health and the environment.
Thank you so much for everything you do. We look forward to keeping you updated on our campaigns and the weeks and months to come.
Save the Date!
HEAL's Spring Breakfast is coming up quick! We'll be sharing details on tickets and our speaker (a former EPA official) very soon, but, for now, mark Thurs. May 18 down in your calendar.Read more...
By Judy Fahys
April 1, 2017
A new state law allows cooking with wood, even when winter smog makes northern Utah’s air unhealthy. Now new scientific data shows that wood-burning turns out to be a bigger part of the problem than anyone realized.
The state’s Air Quality Board hadn’t asked a governor to veto a bill in a decade until HB65. Lawmakers had passed it to block state regulators from restricting barbecuing, smoking and other cooking with wood.
“Air quality, the environment is a big deal for me,” said Gov. Gary Herbert during a recent KUED-Channel 7 news conference. He was sympathizing with the Air Quality Board but also defending what he called positive steps made on air quality in this year’s legislative session.
... to read the full article, please click here...Read more...
March 29, 2017
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law a measure allowing wood burning for cooking on even the worst air quality days.
That's made clean air advocates upset, and the Utah Air Quality Board had asked him to veto it. The board said it would negatively impact the state's ability to meet federal air quality standards.
Herbert's spokesman said the measure doesn't alter current practice and that the sponsor will make technical changes to ensure the rule isn't too broad.
... to read the full article, please click here...Read more...