Poor air quality remains a serious health and environmental issue for many Utahns. At Monday’s opening of the Utah Legislative Session, many officials said they advocated for improving the state’s air quality.
Representative Patrice Arent has sponsored a 2018 bill targeting diesel emissions. The amendment will extend emissions testing to diesel vehicles in Utah County, the only county along the Wasatch Front without this testing regulation.
“In five counties, we tested gasoline vehicles to make sure that their emissions systems are working," she said. "Four of those counties have already determined that diesel vehicles ought to be tested too, because a diesel vehicle is more likely to have problems and when it does it pollutes more. One of our counties however is not doing that testing and what this bill would do is require them to also do the testing in that county, which is Utah County.”
Arent says that without this measure in place, diesel vehicles in non-attainment counties will continue to contribute as much as 170 tons of pollutants per year to the environment.
“As we’ve heard over and over again," said Senator Stuart Adams, Utah's Senate Majority Whip, "is that the largest portion of the pollution comes from our automobiles, well over 50 percent is automobile related and if we move to Tier 3 automobiles, it’s one of the more significant things we can do.”
Of the changes proposed, few result in the reduction of vehicles on the road. However, these steps toward change may be what the state of Utah needs to reduce emissions.
“All of the work that we’re doing on clean air is incremental," said Rep. Brian King. "We have to realize we live along the Wasatch Front in a way that we’re going to have these inversions regardless of what we do, but we can gradually improve the air quality and that’s one good way of doing it."
The fate of H.B. 101 and other proposed bills will be discussed over the next 45 days of the 2018 Utah Legislative Session.