Utah Democrats announced legislation aimed at addressing air pollution this morning. The announcement comes after several groups have demanded action from lawmakers and the governor to improve northern Utah’s notoriously poor air quality.
Members of the Utah House & Senate Democratic Caucuses are drafting a package of bills that they say will help curb air pollution in the state. Representative Patrice Arent summed up the purpose of the legislation.
The Democrats highlighted six bills in particular – and promised more – that would try to tackle the state’s air pollution problems. A key component of the clean-air push is a bill to pay for free use of Utah Transit Authority trains and buses in January and July – times when air quality in the north of the state is especially poor. Other bills would require industry to use the best-available air scrubbers, or would enact more stringent regulations than EPA standards.
Representative Joel Briscoe, sponsor of the UTA bill, says the issue can’t be ignored any longer.
In January, the group Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment declared a public health state of emergency after the Environmental Protection Agency listed several northern Utah cities as having the worst air quality in the nation. Soon after, the Utah Mom’s for Clean Air announced plans for a clean-air pledge they hoped lawmakers would sign. And recently, a campaign asking Governor Herbert to take decisive action on the issue got traction on Facebook – and led to a rally on the steps of the Capitol.
Democrats say that their package of bills is not meant to start a dialogue, but instead to enact meaningful reforms. Again, Representative Arent.
Many of the bills introduced today are not yet numbered, but all have been filed for consideration by the legislature.