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Health, Science & Environment

Interim Committee Will Look at Stricter State Air Quality Regulations

Dan Bammes
Pollution trapped in a winter air inversion covers the Salt Lake Valley

  Utah’s current law prohibits state regulators from imposing any air quality regulations stricter than federal requirements. A bill that would change that will be up for discussion in a legislative committee this week.

On Wednesday, the legislature’s  Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee will gather for an interim meeting. Lawmakers will look at a proposal that would allow the state of Utah to impose stricter air quality standards than the federal government.

Kathy Van Dame, who’s a member of the state Air Quality Board, says it’s a tool Utah needs to address its unique problems.

Van Dame tells KUER, “It is really a weakness in the way that it is we handle risk in Utah that, very frequently, we default to the federal regulations.  And if the feds don’t require something, it’s just not on the table.”

Similar proposals have failed in recent legislative sessions.  Republican State Senator Scott Jenkins is co-chair of the committee.  He expects lawmakers will be skeptical of this latest version.

Jenkins says Utah has been making good progress addressing its air quality issues.

Jenkins says, “Y’know, our air quality is the best it’s ever been, right now.  Better than it’s been since 1952.  So it’s not like we’re not doing good things.  We’re doing great things.  We just need to keep doing more.”

The interim committee will also be looking at new proposals to regulate pollution from wood burning stoves and at ways to encourage the production of cleaner Tier 3 gasoline in Utah.  The meeting is set for 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday at the state capitol.

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