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…
By Aimee Lewis
For the Deseret News
Published: Aug. 23, 2017 4:05 p.m.
I was raised to count my blessings, but I admit I’ve taken fresh air for granted until recently. My fiancé jokes that my respiratory system is more dependable than our air quality monitors. My usual pollution symptoms (sore throat, congestion and a deep barking cough) manifest themselves anytime our air pollution reaches the upper levels of yellow on the air pollution scale.
By the time our air quality alerts hit orange (“unhealthy for sensitive groups”) I feel sick with the flu. In addition to the respiratory issues and sore throat, I get body aches.
I’ve called in sick twice this summer because I believed I had an actual flu. On those same days, several co-workers called in sick with similar symptoms.
Read the full Op-Ed here.
By Ashley Soltysiak
Published by the Salt Lake Tribune, Jun 24 2017
Amid fierce debate, the federal Environmental Protection Agency strengthened national ozone pollution standards in 2015. The move was billed by industry as one of the most expensive environmental regulations ever proposed, while public health and environmental advocacy groups argued that the new standard of 70 parts per billion wasn't protective enough of human health.
EPA science advisors had advocated for a standard between 60 and 70 parts per billion, preferring the lower end of that spectrum. Ultimately, the rule that the agency passed was weaker than what science dictated.
The public health data about ozone has been developed over many decades and is straightforward and compelling: It makes healthy people sick and causes the condition of sick people to worsen. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, ozone pollution has a "marked effect on human health" and "can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and cause lung diseases."
To read more, click here.Read more...
Jun 14 2017
By Kelly Greenwood
As I passed the Capitol on my daily run, the Siouxsie and the Banshees song "Cities in Dust" played in my headphones. Tears welled as my gaze settled on the hazy horizon. "Oh, your city lies in dust, my friend." The song is about ancient Pompeii, but the lyrics apply too well to modern-day Utah, especially with the recent ozone nonattainment regulation extensions granted to Utah by the EPA, as detailed in Emma Penrod's June 7 article.
As a runner, I am biased toward having clean air. But anyone who breathes should feel the same. I put my trust daily in the Division of Air Quality to monitor ozone and PM 2.5 levels, but DAQ Director Bryce Bird's dismissal of the nonattainment extensions as nonimpactful is alarming. HEAL Utah's Matt Pacenza is absolutely correct to say that these extensions negatively impact short-term public health; the longer the nonattainment areas have to come up with a plan to combat pollution, the longer we have poor air quality.
To read more, click here.Read more...