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Health, Science & Environment

Lawmakers Offer Utah Refineries Clean-Fuel Incentives

Utah Department of Transportation

Lawmakers finalized an incentive Wednesday for Utah’s refineries to bring cleaner “Tier 3” gasoline to the state.

Republican Rep. Brad Wilson represents a district in Davis County that suffers from ugly winter smog episodes, like much of northern Utah. He called the sales-tax break for refineries the Legislature’s big move this year to clean up northern Utah’s air.

“Of all the bills you will probably ever vote on, this is the most efficient in terms of cost per ton and reducing particulates and pollution in our air.”

Originally, the sales-tax exemption applied to all manufacturers and would have cost $87 million dollars. But the version passed Wednesday would cost around $3 million dollars over the next two years. The aim would be helping refineries pay for equipment that removes pollution from gasoline.

About half of northern Utah’s smog can be blamed on vehicle emissions. So, using cleaner cars that run on cleaner fuel is expected to have as much impact on air quality as taking four of every five cars off the road.

“We think it’s a good investment for the state,” says Lee Peacock, director of the the Utah Petroleum Association, a trade group representing 75 companies. “Still it is a huge investment for Utah’s refineries as they proceed, hopefully, with these very expensive projects.”

Some of Utah’s five refineries already produce cleaner fuel. And Tesoro volunteered to upgrade its Utah refinery a year ago. Current law doesn’t force local refineries to make the cleaner fuel. Federal law doesn’t explicitly require it.

Now the incentives bill just needs the governor’s signature to become law.

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