Upcoming bills in the 2019 Utah State legislature
Every year it feels like we make a little more progress toward a healthier environment, even if sometimes we take a step or two back in the process. This legislative session, we foresee a move toward better environmental policies, Here’s a short list of what’s to come; there’s still more legislation in the works!
Free fare days: Again and again we hear about the barriers to taking public transportation in Utah, one of which is cost. The free fare days bill looks to create a program in which all UTA transportation, including buses, TRAX and Frontrunner, throughout their service area would be entirely free for a certain number of days during our inversion season.
Coal rolling: While it is already illegal in Utah to tamper with a car’s emissions controls, some still do in order to spew stacks of black smoke on demand, a trend known as coal rolling. This bill would increase the penalties and improve the reporting system for those who tamper with their engines to “roll coal”—something all of us could live without experiencing!
$100 million appropriation for air quality: The Governor recently appropriated an unprecedented $100 million to improving air quality with the goal of reducing emissions 25% by 2026.
This amount still needs be approved by the legislature, so expect some negotiations. Hopefully most of the money will be approved! If it is, there will be an incredible opportunity to make some big strides in improving our air.
Energy and Climate
Municipality 100% renewable energy bill: Salt Lake City, Park City and Summit County have all put forward goals to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. However, in order to do this, the Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates our largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power, needs the authority to create a new electric rate class for these areas.
This bill would enable the PSC to create thenew rate structure and help these municipalities fully transition to renewables.
Rural renewable energy resolution: As Utah continues to search for ways to improve rural economies, renewable energy has the potential to bring jobs, a tax base, and new economic development to Utah’s rural areas. This resolution would support that.
Building code amendments: Homes and buildings are large energy users, as well as a part of the second largest source of emissions in our valley, mostly due to furnaces, water heaters and other appliances that use electricity and/or natural gas. The building codes meant to ensure that our offices and homes are built to standards that reduce the amount of gas and energy needed for them to function are outdated.
This bill makes some tweaks to the residential code (such as requiring 90% of all new installed lighting to be LEDs) and adopts the full 2018 commercial code, ensuring that all new construction is built to better standards.
Stay in the loop by following local news, checking social media for live updates, and watching bill trackers, such as HEAL Utah’s.
Jessica Reimer is HEAL Utah’s policy associate focusing primarily on air quality and radioactive waste. Grace Olscamp is HEAL Utah’s communications and outreach associate.
Be a catalyst!
Jan. 11: UCAIR legislative preview panel, 9-11am, DEQ board room, 1950 West
Jan. 19: Attend CATALYST’s Clean Air Solutions Fair at Gateway Mall (south side of Union Station on Fourth West). See this issue for details.
All month: Sign up now for February’s Clear the Air Challenge.