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CLEAN AIR ACTIVISTS TO GATHER FRIDAY EVENING OUTSIDE HOME BUILDERS GALA TO ENCOURAGE GOOD CLEAN AIR POLICIES
GROUPS CRITICAL OF HOME BUILDERS’ ASSOCIATION STANCE ON WATER HEATER, BUILDING CODE POLICIES
WHERE: The Falls Event Center, Trolley Square (on west side of Trolley Square, on urban plaza just off of 600 East)
WHEN: Friday, January 15, 5:45 pm (quick press conference at 5:45 pm; leafletting/sign-waving begins at 6 pm)
Clean air activists led by Utah Moms for Clean Air, HEAL Utah and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment will gather outside the Utah Home Builders’ Association annual gala – “Denim & Diamonds Awards Gala” – to urge one of state’s most powerful sectors to embrace commonsense public policies to clean up the Wasatch Front’s dirty air.
In recent months, the Home Builders Association has successfully opposed two policies that represent low-cost opportunities to remove thousands of tons of dangerous pollution from our air in the coming decades. The first would require low-cost water heaters in Utah, while the second would improve the efficiency of our new homes.
Both policies face an uncertain future during the 2016 session of the State Legislature, in large part due to the opposition of two of Utah’s most influential sectors – the trade associations that represent homebuilders and Realtors.
And so advocates will gather outside of the homebuilders’ gala on Friday evening at Trolley Square, handing out leaflets to attendees and politely urging them to embrace smart clean air policies.
“The home builders build homes for generations of Utahns,” says Ingrid Griffee, Utah Moms for Clean Air. “What sort of legacy do they wish to contribute to: A legacy of smog and sickness? We urge them to contribute to a legacy of cleaner, healthier air for families.”
Last summer, state regulators approved a new rule to mandate ultra low-NOx hot water heaters to be sold in Utah by 2017. This will remove about the same amount of NOx, a gas which contributes to our winter smog, by about the same amount as closing our refineries.
With the Division of Air Quality predicting that homes will soon overtake cars as an individual’s biggest contribution to smog, this simple rule would be a key clean air solution. However, the Home Builders’ Association contested the rule – and it failed to pass what is typically a routine legislative review. The water heater mandate is expected to return to the Legislature in a few weeks.
“Cleaner water heaters and stronger building codes are exactly the kind of cheap and effective clean air policy Utahns desperately want our leaders to implement,” says Matt Pacenza, HEAL Utah’s executive director. “Homebuilders need to understand that their future prosperity depends on our state becoming a healthy environment for all our families.”
Additionally, the Home Builders’ Association has expressed opposition to the energy, money, and pollution savings that will be realized if Utah adopts the updated 2015 building codes for our new homes. That measure was also tabled after it hit a legislative committee this fall – but also may be revived this spring. Updated building codes cut emissions from our new homes by 15 to 20 percent. And their modest cost of a few hundred dollars is paid back by lower utility bills in just a few short years.
Advocates are gathering to urge the Home Builder’s Association to be a part of the solution, to take their responsibility to their communities and to the families of Utah seriously, and build homes for us which will contribute to healthy air, not more smog. They invite them to reach out to advocates and to state officials pushing these policies to support common sense regulation, and to stand publicly for healthier air for Utah’s families. They ask that they go on record in support of ultra low nox water heaters and the 2015 energy codes.
If they cannot join with the people of Utah to be a part of the solution, we demand that they cease opposition to common sense air quality regulations.
Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!
For more information, or to schedule an interview, please call:
· Ingrid Griffee, Utah Moms for Clean Air, 503-707-4375
· Matt Pacenza, HEAL Utah, 801-864-0264