09 March 2014

Heal Utah- Air Quality Update

The Legislative Session is ratcheting up to a frenzy! Less than 10 days left and already the midnight oil, er, environmentally-friendly solar powered LED headlamps, are burning late into the night at the HEAL office. It's over the next few days that we'll discover whether this legislative session will have us singing the blues, or singing "Blue Skies"

Prioritizing appropriations for clean air legislation 
Crafting strong clean air legislation is important, but if it isn’t prioritized for funding it won't matter how great the bill is, nor will it matter whether it passed committee or mustered support on the floor of the House or Senate. Without funding, all of the hard work of creating and supporting good clean air bills will be for naught!

The time is short to let the Executive Appropriations Committee know that you want to see clean air bills prioritized for funding. Click here and tell them that air quality is your priority and it must be theirs as well!

Air Quality Legislation Update
If you haven’t already, check out HEAL’s air quality tracker. We’ve compiled all the air quality legislation into one place.  We have the good (Rep. Arent HB 61and Rep. Edwards' HB 121 to name just a few), the bad (Rep. Noel's SCR 9), and the downright embarrassing (Rep. Jerry Anderson's HB 229) (great article on Rep. Anderson's blundering HB229) all conveniently cloistered in one place for your edification. Take a minute to look at the tracker, find out where you can make a difference and get involved!

In the past week we’ve seen a handful of good bills move forward. For example: Rep Edwards HB 121 which modifies the “stricter than the EPA” language and allows the state to make its own pollution safeguards, successfully made it through the notoriously un-friendly House Natural Resources Committee and is waiting for a reading on the House Floor (Tribune Article). Similarly, Sen. Davis’  SB164, which strikes the “tougher than EPA” language, passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee and is waiting for a vote in the full Senate (Tribune).
A good transportation bill, HB 338 from Rep. Johnny Anderson, passed its House committee earlier this week. This bill authorizes a voter approved increase of .25% in local transit tax to increase bus routes, frequencies, car pools, etc (Tribune).

Rep. Patrice Arent has been working hard to make sure her clean air bills progress, including: HB38S2 - Resource Stewardship Amendments, which will create a state Sustainability Coordinator Position and HB 61 - Clean Air Programs, which will in-part provide grants for diesel retrofits and encourage the replacement of polluting landscaping maintenance equipment.
Another good bill, Rep. Handy’s  HB 41 - Clean Fuel School Buses and Infrastructure, made it through the House and is waiting to move through the Senate.
Handy’s bill, like the other listed above and found on our clean air bill tracker, have the potential to clean up our air, but ultimately they're only as good as their appropriations are successful. One more reason why NOW is the time to tell legislators to fund clean air improvements!
Together, we'll be singing "Blue Skies"before you know it!
Rob DeBirk

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