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…
Greetings! There is plenty to update you about – from attacks on the EPA, to HEAL summer internships, to a final push to call Gov. Herbert to veto a bad air bill – but first, allow me to make a brief plea.
It’s just one week until the annual Love Utah, Give Utah celebration! This is the statewide day of giving during which Utahns can donate to their favorite charities.
It's also a friendly competition in which groups like HEAL are eligible to win prizes awarded to the nonprofits that recieve the highest number of donations.
And because we have such a dedicated base of supporters -- that means you! -- we've done very well in the competition in previous years. In fact, we've consistently finished in the top three and earned up to $10,000 in additional prizes, no small boon for HEAL! To see how we're doing, please join us to watch the leaderboards, alongside our nonprofits friends, on March 30 for our Love, Protect Utah party at Fisher Brewing.
So, you will get another email or two about this between now and Thursday, but Love Utah, Give Utah has started already: if you'd like to support HEAL and help us win even more funding, please click here to donate now. A gift of just $10 counts toward the competition! And we won't turn down bigger gifts either. Thanks!
Disgust with DC
Like us, I'm sure, you're watching events out of Washington, DC with a mix of dread, outrage and befuddlement. It's hard to know where to start when it comes to reacting to the latest attack on public health and the environment from the President and EPA Administrator Pruitt, but certainly the proposal to slash the agency's budget by 30% is very worrisome.
If you'd like to read more about why we think that's a problem for Utah, and specifically a problem for air quality, please read the op-ed which I wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune a few weeks ago, "If Trump Hobbles the EPA, Utahns Lungs Will Pay the Price." Here's an excerpt:
Utah's representatives in Congress often put forth rhetoric about "EPA overreach" and the need for "greater local control." Those words might help them get elected, but if they don't stand up for the agency's staff and budget in the months to come, it's the health of Utah's families and our children who will pay the price.
We shared an action alert about this issue about a month ago, but if you didn't have a chance to let your US Senators and Representative know that you want them to protect the EPA's budget, please click here.
Become a HEAL Intern!
We are currently seeking interns for the summer of 2017! This year, we have created two separate internships. The first will help us with our outreach and education efforts, including tabling at fun summer events. The second will work with our policy staff on research and writing, supporting HEAL’s principle campaigns. So please forward this email or share the links with anyone who might be interested in a summer 2017 internship with HEAL Utah! Applications due April 10.
#Trypod: The HEAL Utah Podcast!
Incredibly, we have recorded 73 episodes of the HEAL Utah podcast since 2015. Many of you are listeners, which is gratifying. If you do listen to the podcast, we'd love to urge you to go to iTunes and rate and review the podcast, which will help us bring us a bigger audience. If you're not listening, here's a link to the page on our Website which has all 73 episodes. If you want to listen any on your computer or phone, just click on each episode title to do so.
Also, there's information on that page on how to subscribe so that each new episode automatically appears on your phone or other listening device. Do check it out! It's a great way to deepen your knowledge of HEAL and environmental issues in Utah. And you get to hear the sound of my voice every week, which is its own precious gift. I’m joking! (Or am I?)
Call for Veto
So, as many of you already know, Gov. Gary Herbert announced yesterday that he would sign one controversial bill from this past legislative session, to lower the threshold at which someone can be arrested for drunk driving.
He now just has a few more days to decide on the remaining bills and that includes HB65, the bill which could make it much easier for Utahns to burn wood even on the worst air days. So, the clock is ticking! And if you've not had a chance to call Governor Herbert and ask him to veto HB 65, now is your chance! Just call 801-538-1000 during business hours and tell whoever answers you'd like him to veto HB65. It literally takes less than a minute. Thank you! And here's a few links to some recent news coverage about our efforts to get this bill vetoed, in the Salt Lake Tribune in the Deseret News and on Fox 13.
OK, that’s enough for now! Stay tuned for more updates soon on our efforts to defend rooftop solar and plans for pushing for bolder clean air policies.
And please consider donating to HEAL via Love Utah, Give Utah!
HEAL Utah Executive DirectorRead more...
By EMMA PENROD
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published Mar 11 2017
State regulators and environmental advocates praised Utah lawmakers' late approval of spending $1.3 million for new air quality sensors, but their reviews were otherwise mixed.
"Overall it was a somewhat disappointing session," said Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, a nonprofit that lobbies for clean air policy. "But we're grateful given the political context that we have some positive achievements to point to."
Though probably the most significant environmental issue of this year's session, the Division of Air Quality's request for air monitoring funding — $1.3 million one-time to upgrade the department's network and $150,000 ongoing for maintenance — did not draw approval until Wednesday, a day before the adjourning gavel fell.
Alan Matheson, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said the spending would repair the agency's aging air monitors, now unreliable and prone to periodic failure even during some of the state's worst seasonal pollution episodes.
... To read the full article, please click here...Read more...
Published March 16, 2017
Associated Press/ US News
By BRADY McCOMBS
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A proposal passed by Utah state legislators that would allow wood burning for cooking on even the worst air quality days should be vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert to ensure the state is doing everything possible to combat the causes of murky winter air, an environmental group said Thursday.
Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, said at a news conference in Salt Lake City that the state has taken some important steps to improve air quality in recent years but population growth means Utah can't let up. The proposal is written too broadly and would allow for all kinds of wood burning so long as the people claim they're cooking.
"We need to look under every rock, as they say, to find ways to reduce emissions and solve our air quality problem," said Pacenza, who was flanked by supporters holding signs that read, "Clean Air Now."
Herbert's spokesman Paul Edwards said in a statement that the Republican governor is studying the issue and plans to meet with people on both sides in the coming week. He said the governor recognizes the importance of giving the Air Quality Board the authority to make decisions, but also understands the private sector's wanting "greater flexibility."
Hebert has until March 29 to sign or veto the bills the Legislature passed.
... To read the full article, please click here...Read more...