(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — In 2014, two bills sought to change, or eliminate entirely, an old code that has hobbled Utah’s regulatory agencies from doing anything unique to solve the state’s ongoing air pollution crisis.
Section 19-2-106, implemented nearly three decades ago, hamstrings Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and ancillary Division of Air Quality (DAQ) from voting in any regulations that supersede those of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards — a debilitating move since Utah has geographical air-pollution-contributing factors that are simply not present in most other places.
Last year, both Republican Representative Becky Edwards, and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis tried to change this monkey-wrench of a problem with H.B. 121 and S.B. 164 respectively, but to the great disappointment of environmentalists and concerned citizens alike, both failed before all was said and done.
This year, both legislators are back with virtually the same bills and a renewed fervor to see them pass. The bills are re-labeled H.B. 226 and S.B. 87 in the 2015 legislative session.
While Edwards’ bill wears minor changes and seeks to alter the restrictive language in 19-2-106, Davis’ bill is the same as it was last year and seeks to repeal 19-2-106 entirely.
On Feb. 4, S.B. 87 cleared the Utah Senate Natural Resources Agriculture and Environment Committee and is expected to be heard and voted on in the Senate any day now.
EnviroNews USA Executive Editor Emerson Urry had the opportunity to sit down in a feature interview with Davis regarding the importance of S.B. 87. Please check back later this evening for a full transcript of this great interview.