January 7 2015
The skies have cleared slightly the past few days, but this winter has already seen several days when Utah’s air exceeds federal safety standards. Or, in other words, yuck.
As you know, HEAL fights for policies to help clean up our air – which is of course not just gross but dangerous. We successfully lobbied for strict federal gas standards (Tier 3.) We’ve fought for legislative action addressing vehicles, buildings and industry. And, this past fall, we presented rules to a key state board to strengthen the oversight of big industry (more on that in the months to come.)
While HEAL and our partners in the broad clean air community have had several notable victories, we’ve still mountains to climb.
I’ll explain more below, but here’s what we need you to do now: Click here to urge your Senator and Representative to support good clean air legislation during the 2016 session which starts on Jan. 25. And now’s the time to do it. Soon, their inboxes will be flooded, so let’s make sure they get a pro-clean air message now!
As of now, here’s what we see as the priority bills during the 2016 session:
· Updating Utah’s building codes to 2015 standards. More efficient homes burn less gas for heat and use less electricity for air conditioning. Less gas and electricity means less pollution, not just the kind that chokes our valleys but the kind that warms our planet. Utah hasn’t updated its building codes in nine years: Now’s the time to catch up!
· Requiring cleaner water heaters. Nearly all of us heat water with natural gas. There’s a cheap, simple new technology which would cut the NOx emissions from our heaters by 75 percent — the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road. State officials passed such a rule and distressingly a legislative committee over-ruled them. Now, during this session, the full Legislature will consider the proposal anew. And pass it, if we and you have anything to say about it!
And that’s not all. There are also bills to expand clean air funding and to boost the penalties on industries that break the law. And of course there are some bad bills we’ll fight to stop.
As always, stay tuned! And don’t forget to take a minute and let your Senator and Rep know how you want them to vote on air quality legislation.
HEAL has A LOT going on in January. We’ll send out separate emails about the different events and hearings we’re hoping you can attend. But for those of you who are on the ball – and honestly, you should be careful about that, because it’s hard to balance on balls (they’re round) and you might fall – we’re going to share those different dates with links right now.
An odd twist. ALL three of these events take place at the Main Library on 400 South in downtown Salt Lake City:
- One week from today, at 7 pm on Thurs. Jan. 14, I will be one of four panelists discussing clean air at a session organized by KUER and moderated by award-winning local environmental journalist Judy Fahys in the library’s big auditorium. The free event, “Pollution Gets Personal,” includes me, an industry rep, a Republican senator and a state regulator. Sounds like a recipe for some healthy debate and hopefully a few sparks! Here’s a link to a Facebook event for the panel and also more information on KUER’s web site. Come check it out!
- We’ll be hosting a “Legislative Preview” at 7 pm, Wed. Jan. 20, in the library’s fourth floor conference room. This is one of our Community Nights, informal gatherings in which staff and allies brief our supporters about one of our core issues and include plenty of time for questions and discussion. We’ll brief you about what to expect during the 2016 session, including more detail on those buildings bills. To RSVP, click here. To share the event with your friends on Facebook, click here.
- OK, here’s the BIG one. The EPA is holding a Public Hearing on Tues. Jan. 26, to gather public comment on which direction it should go on its critical decision about “regional haze.” This is the culmination of many months of work from HEAL and our allies to convince the feds to order Utah’s coal power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution controls. The hearing will be in that same fourth floor conference room and will have a daytime session from 1 to 5 pm and a nighttime one from 6 to 8 pm. Please come! Please speak out in favor of cleaning up dangerous and unsightly coal power plan pollution. For more information and to invite your friends, click this Facebook event page.
Phew! Busy January. Hope to see you at some of these events!
HEAL Utah executive director and panelist provocateur
824 S 400 W
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
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