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Air Board Urges Veto On Wood-Fired Cooking Bill

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Lawmakers passed HB65 without little discussion about how it would affect regulators' ability to tackle Utah's winter smog problems. The Air Quality Board is asking the governor to veto the bill.

The Utah Air Quality Board, hasn’t asked for a veto in a decade -- until now.

The board wants to stop legislation that would block any wood-burning restrictions for cooking food even when pollution is high. The entire board –which includes people from industry, government and the health community -- signed onto a letter to Governor Gary Herbert saying that state regulators need all available options for limiting wintertime smog. That’s because the Clean Air Act requires Utah to get its bad air under control.

“The board understands the research that’s going on,” says board member, Erin Mendenhall, who’s also a Salt Lake City Council member. “And when we talk about it in terms of 1 or 2 percent, those are actually significant quantities that we would like to have control over in our emissions inventory.”

Current regulations allow limits on most burning during high-pollution periods, when smoke adds to the smog.

But lawmakers debating the bill on the House and Senate floors last month barely mentioned air quality. Instead, they talked about personal freedom to barbecue and limiting businesses, like wood-fired pizza restaurants.

“I know of many people in my area that have luaus, and they spent a lot of time preparing,” said Senator Stuart Adams, R-Layton, in expanding the legislation to include home and commercial cooking. “And, if all of the sudden they had a ban, they’d have to waste the food.”

A Sugar House company, Traeger Grills, requested the bill.

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