Utah lawmaker hopes to pass air quality bill that failed last legislative session

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jan 06, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- For the second straight year a bill is being proposed in Utah that would give the state power over air quality standards.

Rep. Becky Edwards, R- North Salt Lake, plans to once again sponsor the bill in the legislative session that begins later this month.

"We sit in a very unique situation here in Utah especially in the Salt Lake Valley," Edwards said.

Edwards said Utah's topography, geography and climate are different than everywhere else in the country. She doesn't understand why every state is held under the same EPA guidelines when it comes to air quality and emissions.

"The EPA standards are created on the East coast using modeling that doesn't relate at all to us," Edwards said.

Under the proposed bill, the Utah Division of Air Quality would have the ability to create stricter air quality standards.

"It allows Utah to do what we like to do best, which is take care of our own problems in our own ways," Edwards said.

However Sen. Scott Jenkins R-Plain City said he was elected as a legislator to be in control of the government, and he believes this bill does quite the opposite.

"In my mind this is a little bit of opening the door, and letting them go at their own pace and letting them go in their own direction and I don't agree with that, that scares me," Jenkins said.

Jenkins acknowledges the state needs better air quality, but he's worried this bill could be more of a problem, rather than a solution.

"They say, ‘well this will allow us to do things that we can't do now,’ I agree -- it will allow them to do things and I'm not comfortable with that. I'm wondering just what it will allow them to do and how far they plan on taking it," Jenkins said.

This bill passed the House last year but stalled in a Senate committee. Edwards said she believes she has more support this time around.

The Utah legislative session begins Jan. 26.