By Scott Baird
Thursday night marked the end of the 2019 Utah State Legislature. For more than six weeks, lawmakers have worked tirelessly in Salt Lake City to fulfill their important duty of making laws and authorizing the state’s budget.
During the 45-day session, legislators took important steps to support the Department of Environmental Quality’s mission of safeguarding Utah’s air, land and water. In addition to several key pieces of legislations, policymakers reauthorized the Safe Drinking Water Act, Water Quality Act, Used Oil Management Act, Solid and Hazardous Waste Act, and Air Conservation Act.
Air quality received plenty of buzz when Gov. Gary Herbert’s proposed budget included $100 million for high-impact air-pollution-reduction projects. Lawmakers and citizens alike shared many ideas about how this money could help clear the air. The budget process seldom travels along a straight line. After weeks of debate on the state’s spending for 2019, lawmakers settled on more than $28 million in legislation and one-time funding for air-quality projects.
To put this funding in perspective, this marks a historic level of funding for air quality projects. These funds will go toward a variety of projects that will promote telecommuting in state offices, create free fare days on public transit, replace state vehicles that are more than 10 years old and build electric-vehicle charging stations at public facilities.
As public servants, we are accountable for taxpayer dollars. We are working to ensure this money is used in the most effective and efficient projects to bring significant improvements to Utah’s air.
We have a lot of work ahead of us for the coming year, but for now, we’d like to thank all of you for your support and help as we prepared for and worked through a great legislative session. We could not have accomplished this without you!
Below is a quick roundup of our new appropriations and some of the bills passed on Capitol Hill:
Funds teleworking expenses for state employees, with opportunities for more rural Utah employment.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at State Sites
Installs electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at state-owned facilities.
Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment
Incentivizes businesses and government entities to install electric vehicle charging equipment.
Weatherization assistance that reduces energy consumption and NOx emissions from home heating appliances.
Air Quality Messaging Campaigns
Funds expanded year-round air quality messaging campaigns and includes new targeted areas.
Pre-2007 State Vehicle Replacement Plan
Replaces 238 pre-2007 overly polluting state vehicles.
Mobile Monitoring Data Collection
Provides air quality monitors on TRAX lines.
Harmful Algal Bloom Response
Ongoing money to fund sampling and responding to Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) throughout Utah.
HB 32—Rulemaking Fiscal Accountability Amendments
This bill provides for review and Legislative approval of certain Water Quality Board rules or standards.
HB 107—Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act Amendments
Amends the Sustainable Transportation Plan Act to include a large-scale natural gas utility. Includes a pilot program and provides for air quality improvements.
HB 139—Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments
Amends penalties for visible emissions (“rolling coal”), prohibits distraction or endangerment of vulnerable highway users by excessive exhaust, and adds reporting requirements.
HB 218—Construction Code Modifications
Adopts the full commercial energy code.
HB 220—Radioactive Waste Amendments
Provides that certain waste classifications are determined at the time of acceptance. Allows the director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control to authorize alternate requirements for waste classification and characteristics that would allow an entity to accept certain waste at a specific site. Requires the federal government to take stewardship in perpetuity of certain types of waste.
HB 310—Solid and Hazardous Waste Amendments
This bill modifies provisions related to solid and hazardous waste. Addresses waste generated and disposed of on site
HB 411—Community Renewable Energy Act
Provides an innovative process for communities seeking a net 100% renewable energy, including PSC rule-making authority, options for customer participation, procedures concerning rates, and renewable energy resource acquisition.
HB 148—Vehicle Idling Revisions
This bill amends provisions related to enforcement of a local authority’s idling restrictions to require at least one warning citation (instead of three) before imposition of a fine.
HB 353—Reduction of Single Occupancy Vehicle Trips Pilot Program
This bill sets up a pilot program for free fare days on UTA to move people on to transit on “yellow” and “orange” days working with the DEQ.
HB 357—Voluntary Wood Burning Conversion Program
This bill provides funding for individuals in the nonattainment areas to voluntarily switch from a wood-burning appliance to a natural gas burning appliance
SB 46—Tire Recycling Amendments
This bill modifies reimbursement provisions of the Waste Tire Recycling Act.
SB 52—Secondary Water Requirements
This bill requires a secondary water provider that begins design work for new secondary water services to certain users to meter the use of water.
SB 144—Environmental Quality Monitoring Amendments
This bill directs the Department of Environmental Quality to establish and maintain monitoring facilities to measure environmental impacts from inland port development and to report the results of the monitoring.
HCR. 3—Concurrent Resolution Concerning Switcher Locomotive Emission Standards
This concurrent resolution requests that Congress allow states to regulate certain switcher locomotive emission standards.
HCR. 10—Concurrent Resolution to Address Declining Water Levels Of The Great Salt Lake
This resolution recognizes the critical importance of continued water flows to Great Salt Lake and its wetlands and the need for solutions to address declining water levels, while appropriately balancing economic, social, and environmental needs.
HCR. 11—Concurrent Resolution Encouraging the Purchase of Tier 3 Gasoline
This concurrent resolution encourages purchase of lower-sulfur Tier 3 compliant gasoline by retailers and consumers.
HCR. 13—Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Utah Refiners to Manufacture Tier 3 Gasoline to Improve Air Quality
This concurrent resolution of the Legislature and the Governor urges refineries operating within Utah to utilize the state sales and use tax exemption provided by the state to make the investments necessary to manufacture lower-sulfur Tier 3 gasoline in Utah.
SJR 1—Water Banking In Utah
This resolution requests recommendations on the development and creation of water banks to further the 2017 State Recommended Water Strategy.
So, now that we’ve had a weekend to rest and catch our breath, it’s time to begin anew our preparations for next year’s legislative session. Please reach out to us and share your ideas, questions, or concerns, on how we can better serve our community, work towards our mission and ultimately achieve our vision of Clean air land and water for a healthy and prosperous Utah.
Visit the Utah Legislature website for a complete list of the bills that were passed, their effective date, and the Governor’s action (signed or not).
As the Deputy Director over Policy, Planning and Operational Improvement, I enjoy working with legislators, stakeholders and our employees in finding ways to improve how we do our work. Prior to joining DEQ, I worked in the Governor’s Offices in Utah and Washington and with Deloitte Consulting in D.C., where I helped state and federal agencies identify and implement opportunities to improve. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree at Brigham Young University and my Masters in Public Administration (MPA) and JD degrees from Syracuse University. I LOVE to get outdoors and enjoy SKIING, running, hiking, backpacking, camping, working in the yard, fixing up our broken-down house, and anything else I can convince my wife and four daughters to do with me…oh yeah, and I really like ice cream!