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Senate cuts funding, then passes clean air bills

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Wednesday, January 22, 2014

By Topher Webb

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Mar 12 2014 08:10PM
Updated Mar 13, 2014 06:37PM

Three bills aiming to take some gunk out of Utah’s air passed the Senate Wednesday after funding in them was cut.

One bill was HB154, which aims to lower emissions from wood burning.

"This bill does two things. One, it establishes a completely voluntary program for conversion of sole-source wood-heated homes to natural gas or other cleaner fuel. Second, it provides education for the general public about wood-burning conversions," said floor sponsor Sen Curtis Bramble, R-Provo.

The bill was amended to cut the cost from $1.8 million to $750,000. As originally drafted, the bill would have provided funds to hire state employees to enforce burning bans on red-air days during the winter inverstion. Both provisions were previously removed from the bill.

As amended, the bill passed the Senate 17-9 and goes back the House for consideration.

The Senate also passed HB74, which continues a program providing a tax credit for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles, as well as for conversion of gas-fuel cars to natural gas or propane.

Senators amended the credit, lowering it from either $2,500 or 35 percent of the vehicle’s cost to either $1,500 or 35 percent. A plug-in hybrid only would qualify for a $1,000 credit.

Floor sponsor Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said this program is always funded on a one-time basis, and lawmakers annually decide how much to money to allocate.

The bill passed 18-10 and goes back to the House.

HB61 unanimously passed the Senate. The proposal allocates $200,000 for the state to give grants and loans to individuals or businesses to replace old yard and maintenance equipment with high efficiency models. The bill also makes electric hybrids eligible for an existing program that provides similar grants when business and government entities switch to clean-fuel cars.

Twitter: @topherjwebb

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