2013 Legislative Session
Legislators Shine Light on Air Quality Bills
With the exception of air quality, the 2013 legislative session was relatively quiet for the Department of Environmental Quality. Here is a summary of environmental bills introduced during the session.
Air QualityAir quality dominated this year's legislative session, as a succession of winter inversions led to unhealthy pollution levels that made national news and captured the attention of legislators and the public. While not all the clean air bills introduced made it into law, the issue sparked thoughtful discussions on possible solutions to a perennial problem. Successful legislation included increased support for the use of natural gas vehicles and requirements for state agencies and school districts to develop and implement plans to mitigate emissions.
HB 96 Cleaner Burning Fuels Tax Credit Amendments
(Rep. Draxler, R-Logan)
This legislation extends individual and corporate tax credits for cleaner burning fuels to the end of 2014. The bill applies a tax credit for qualifying electric or hybrid vehicles, vehicles fueled by natural gas, and natural gas conversion equipment. It retains the current tax credit of $605 for purchase of new electric or hybrid vehicle, $2,500 credit for purchase of a natural gas vehicle, or 50 percent of the cost of equipment for conversion minus any clean fuel grant money received, up to a maximum of $2,500. The bill also requires transfers from the General Fund into the Education Fund for the amount of the tax credit claimed that exceeds $500,000.
HB 168 Air Quality Mitigation by Government Entities
(Rep. Arent, D-Salt Lake)
Designed to improve air quality by reducing emissions from government entities, this legislation requires agencies and school districts to report on current air quality mitigation efforts and develop and implement, within one year, a plan to mitigate emissions. Mitigation efforts are focused on agencies and school districts located in eight counties that are either in nonattainment areas or are experiencing significant pollution problems.
HB 210 Motor Vehicle Emission Amendments
(Rep. Redd, R-Logan)
This legislation provides the means for Cache County to implement a vehicle emissions program to comply with requirements of the proposed PM2.5 State Implementation Plan (SIP). The bill allows a county required to implement a new vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program for which no SIP currently exists to determine, in consultation with the Air Quality Board, the frequency of these tests.
SB 275 Energy Amendments
(Sen. Adams, R-Layton)
This legislation encourages the use of natural gas vehicles by providing a bonding/borrowing mechanism for local governments who wish to invest in natural gas fleet conversions and fueling infrastructure. It directs the Public Service Commission to explore and develop opportunities for expanding the use of natural gas vehicles to improve air quality and make recommendations for the expansion of natural gas fueling and maintenance facilities. The bill also provides a cost recovery mechanism for natural gas companies who construct, operate, or maintain natural gas facilities.
Bills Introduced But Not PassedHB 138 Individual Income Tax Credit for Purchase of Public Transit Pass
(Rep. Poulsen, D-Salt Lake)
This bill would have provided an individual income tax credit for the purchase of transit passes.
HB 346 Air Quality Amendments (Rep. Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City)
This legislation would have repealed current statutory provisions prohibiting the Division of Air Quality from adopting rules more stringent that federal regulations.
HB 394 Outdoor Wood Boilers
(Rep. Noel, R-Kanab)
This bill would have barred the Air Quality Board from prohibiting the sale, installation, replacement or operation of an outdoor wood boiler differently from other solid fuel burning devices. The Air Quality Board recently issued rules prohibiting outdoor wood boilers in nonattainment areas as part of the proposed PM2.5 State Implementation Plan.
HB 405 Clean Air Public Transit Pilot Program
(Rep. Briscoe, D-Salt Lake)
This bill would have created a pilot program for free transit passes during January and July to encourage ridership and reduce emissions during peak pollution months.
HB 411 Public Transit Funding Amendments (Rep. Briscoe, D-Salt Lake)
This legislation would have created the Community Clean Air Public Transit Fund to administer loans and grants for public transit services or facilities that would improve air quality.
Radiation ControlA legislative audit last fall identified areas for improvement in the regulation of low level radioactive waste in Utah. Legislative amendments to current radiation control statutes focused on audit recommendations and provided the Division of Radiation Control with additional tools to regulate radioactive waste disposal in the state. The legislature also issued a concurrent resolution to increase public awareness of the dangers posed by radon gas.
HB 124 Radiation Control Amendments
(Rep. Dee, R-Ogden)
This legislation establishes that certain funds in the Environmental Quality Restricted Account (EQRA) will be applied to cover the costs of administering radiation control programs. It grants rulemaking authority to the Radiation Control Board for radioactive waste licensing requirements, including rules categorizing the level of review required for approval applications. It increases civil penalties to a maximum of $10,000 per violation, up from the previous $5,000 maximum. The legislation also gives the Division Director authority to deny a generator access permit to a generator or broker unless the generator agrees to grant the division reasonable access to its facilities for inspection or verification purposes.
SCR 11 Concurrent Resolution on Radon Gas
(Sen. Valentine, R-Orem)
This resolution designates January 2014 as Radon Action Month and urges citizens throughout the state to educate themselves about the dangers of radon and take steps to prevent exposure.
Drinking WaterThe legislature addressed standards for fluoride in drinking water systems.
HB 72 Safe Drinking Water Disclosure Act
(Rep. Barrus, R-Centerville)
This legislation requires that fluoride added to public drinking water systems meets certain certification standards and requires local health departments to temporarily remove fluoride from water systems if the fluoride being used does not meet these standards.
Solid and Hazardous Waste/Environmental Response and Remediation
The legislature modified provisions for the fees charged for hazardous waste and mixed waste and issued a concurrent resolution approving a landfill in Tooele County to receive specified nonhazardous solid waste. It also passed legislation that required DEQ to study the financial viability of the Underground Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund.
HB 231 Hazardous Waste and Mixed Waste Fees
(Rep. Nelson, R-Grantsville)
This bill requires the Department of Environmental Quality to complete a review of the program costs and indirect costs of regulating mixed waste and establish a fee schedule for the treatment and land disposal of mixed waste. It also allows a facility treating or disposing of hazardous waste or mixed waste to collect a fee from the waste generator.
SCR 1 Concurrent Resolution Approving Solid Waste Landfill Facility Permit
(Sen. Hinkins, R-Orangeville)
This resolution grants approval to the Five Mile Recycle Landfill to operate as a Class VI landfill and receive nonhazardous construction and demolition waste, inert waste, and yard waste. The operating plan will be subject to DEQ approval and the landfill is required to apply for and receive approval from DEQ if it wants to change its waste stream.
HB 241 Underground Petroleum Storage Tank Financial Viability Study
(Rep. Eliason, R-Sandy)
This bill requires DEQ to study the financial viability of the Environmental Assurance Program and the Petroleum Storage Tank Trust Fund. This legislation also modifies the maximum cash allowance of the Trust Fund. It allows the Executive Director of DEQ to use money from the Trust Fund to pay for the actuarial study. Study results are slated to include strategies and recommendations to minimize the adverse selection of participants in the Fund to reduce or eliminate the actuarial deficit of the Trust Fund.
SB 216 Water Pollution Task Force
(Sen. Okerlund, R-Monroe)
A bill to create a Water Pollution Task Force to review and make recommendations to address nutrient pollution in Utah waterways from nonpoint sources was referred for committee study during interim.