One of my air quality bills, HB 121, “Air Quality Revisions,” passed out of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Standing Committee. It now moves on to the House floor for a full debate. This is great news!
This bill modifies code to allow the Division of Air Quality the flexibility to create rules more stringent than corresponding federal regulations, within parameters:
- Rules shall be based on evidence or studies.
- Public hearing and public comment periods are held.
- Rule will provide reasonable added protections to public health or the environment of the state or a particular region of the state.
- This maintains the existing Administrative Rule process, including oversight by the legislative Administrative Rules Review Committee.
- The process to create the “more stringent” rule will continue to be strenuous, but is a necessary tool we need to provide for the DAQ.
Why is this important?
Utah’s unique topography and weather conditions create circumstances that are best addressed with a Utah solution. HB 121 allows for local control to address our local needs. This is another example of how states are more effective and can do things better than federal one size fits all solutions.
Through efforts by industry, citizens, and area sources Utah’s air quality has improved over the past few decades. However, as we look to population growth and energy demands in the next 30 years we must prepare now to meet those needs.
- Economic development, job growth, and tourism
- Public health, including health care costs
It’s been said by many legislators that the EPA keeps moving the compliance goalposts on the states. So, basically, if the federal government, through the EPA, is going to continue to shift the goalposts, then we want Utah to be the quarterback that has a playbook that allows us to be successful at moving the ball through those goalposts and scoring. All this bill does is give Utah options so we don’t just have to run it up the middle. We can run a sweep or even a spread option to accomplish the clean air goals we all share.