EDITORIAL: Utah has work to do fighting pollution

Salt Lake Tribune
March 13, 2017


With an administration and a Congress harboring so much hostility to the idea of even having a federal Environmental Protection Agency, the job of keeping our air and our water from killing us will likely fall to the states.

The Utah Legislature, in the session that ended last week, has taken a few steps in that direction. A couple of the more significant moves are piggy-backing on federal actions, but show how it is possible for the state to pick up whatever torch the feds may drop.

The biggest action in terms of money was that lawmakers passed a bill to earmark the state’s share of EPA’s settlement in the Volkswagen emissions fixing scandal — some $35 million — into programs that will reduce vehicle emissions in the state.

Given the fact that those emissions are one of the largest sources of our lung-scarring wintertime smog, that’s the right thing to do.

The Legislature also adopted a bill to offer local refineries some tax breaks — maybe $4 million over the next couple of years — to churn out more of what the federal government calls Tier 3 fuels. This is a kind of gasoline that puts out much less of such serious pollutants as sulfur, nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds.

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