Press Release: HEAL Utah Shocked With Gov Signing Bad Air Bill

PRESS RELEASE * PRESS RELEASE * PRESS RELEASE

HEAL UTAH SHOCKED BY GOV SIGNING BAD AIR BILL

HERBERT IGNORES ADVICE OF HIS OWN AIR QUALITY PROFESSIONALS

HEAL Utah today expressed serious disappointment after Gov. Gary Herbert chose to sign HB65, a bill that will make it much harder for Utah officials to clean up our air.

The nonprofit pointed out that Gov. Herbert ignored the very panel he appointed to advise him on air quality — the Air Quality Board, which sent him a virtually-unprecedented letter on March 3 urging him to veto HB65

The Board is an independent nonpartisan entity, appointed by Gov. Herbert, which includes three representatives from the business community among its eight members. In its letter, the Board said HB65 “would adversely affect the state’s ability to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards” and would “prevent the Board from developing sensible and science-based rules to address solid-fuel burning associated with cooking.”

Rather than relying upon the expertise of independent air quality professionals, Herbert instead apparently sided with Traeger Grills, the company which drafted and pushed HB65 — The bill which creates loopholes that could lead to increases in dangerous wood smoke emissions on red air days.

“It’s baffling that Gov. Herbert ignored the advice of the diverse panel of air quality experts he appointed,” said Ashley Soltysiak, HEAL Utah’s Policy Director. “The message this new law sends is that it’s open season for deep pocketed businesses who want to gut air quality policy.” 

State officials repeatedly said they have no intention of targeting backyard BBQs, but given Utah’s air quality crisis, and the fact that the state has been failing federal health standards for nearly a decade, it’s important that we leave every potential air quality solution on the table, as our understanding of the issue evolves, HEAL said.

“When it comes to Utah’s troubled air quality, there is no silver bullet,” said Soltysiak. “As our population grows, we must be willing to take a hard look at all sources of emissions. To do so, we should rely on data-driven analysis from air quality professionals, not public policy paid for by Traeger Grills.

For more information, call HEAL’s Policy Director Ashley Soltysiak at (616)-485-8290.