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Utah lawmakers pass tax incentive for refineries to produce cleaner gas

First Published      Last Updated Mar 09 2017 10:37 am


Tier 3 fuel would cut pollution by ‘‘equivalent of removing four out of five cars’’ from road,’ according to environmental officials.

A tax break designed to entice Utah refineries to produce cleaner-burning gasoline more quickly is on its way to Gov. Gary Herbert.

The House voted 72-0 on Wednesday to pass SB197. The Senate previously passed it 24-1.

It broadens a sales tax exemption for refineries that move toward production of cleaner Tier 3 fuel. Legislative analysts estimate that would cost $2.1 million a year in 2019.

The federal government is expected to require Tier 3 fuel eventually, but lawmakers want to speed the process in Utah to fight pollution — a concept that the governor has previously endorsed as the single most important thing policymakers could do to clean up Utah's air.




House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, the House sponsor of what he called the "monumental bill," said Tier 3 fuel would vastly reduce pollution particulates that worsen local inversions.

"If every vehicle on the Wasatch Front were using Tier 3 fuel, it's the equivalent of removing four out of five cars off the roads — a big and important step in the right direction to improve our air," Wilson said. Those figures are also cited by state environmental officials.

He noted that vehicles produce half of the air pollution particulates along the Wasatch Front now.

Wilson said refineries say decisions to make upgrades quickly hinges largely on the tax credit, and may offer big benefits. "These refiners are going to be making tens of millions of dollars of investment to make this happen if they take advantage of this legislation."

Longtime clean air champion Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, added that Tier 3 gasoline will help even older Tier 2 cars "that most of us drive" to reduce pollution. "This gives us good bang for the buck."

 

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