Poor air quality prevents Utahns from enjoying a healthy and active lifestyle and limits our state’s ability to attract visitors and jobs. The air we breathe directly affects our health, and Utah’s poor air quality most acutely harms those with increased health risks—particularly the elderly and those living with chronic conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Excessive levels of pollution (whose occurrence is most visible, but not limited to, periods of winter inversion) diminish the opportunities for, and safety of, wintertime and summertime recreation; inaction on these issues risks Utah’s ability to attract tourists and entrepreneurs.
Utah’s population and economy have grown rapidly in the past decade, leading to job creation and new services for Utah families. However, without meaningful action from the public and private sectors, continued growth will lead to more pollution and only complicate the environmental issues affecting Utah’s citizens.
Democrats want to keep Utah the place to raise a family, build a career, and enjoy the outdoors. And we can do this while prioritizing environmental quality and public health.
Utah Democrats believe individuals, businesses, and governments at the state, county, and city levels can take meaningful action to improve our air quality. We support a balanced and forward thinking approach to public infrastructure that prioritizes energy efficiency and offers transit alternatives to a wide range of Utahns. Cooperation and planning between private employers and public transit providers can make our mass transit systems more accessible and affordable by encouraging ridership. Local authorities should provide safe and well maintained pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfares in urban areas to enable and encourage non-vehicle transit. Lastly, Democrats will work in our state government to commit to clean energy production by protecting net metering for residential solar, mandating expansion in renewables for our electric utilities, and offering tax credits to homeowners for energy efficiency improvements.
In the 2014 legislative session, Utah Democrat Patrice Arent, representative for House District 36, sponsored numerous bills promoting air quality, which passed with bipartisan support. Her efforts limited air pollution by establishing a post for a coordinator of resource stewardship, providing funding to adopt cleaner heating fuels, and creating the Clean Air Retrofit, Replacement, and Off-road Technology (CARROT) fund to enable small businesses and individuals to adopt clean technology. (H.B. 154, H.B. 38, and H.B. 61, respectively.) Thank you, Representative Arent, for fighting for air quality!