A House committee Thursday endorsed and sent to the full House a bill that would help Utahns replace polluting yard and maintenance equipment with clean or high efficiency models.
HB61, approved 14-1, would create a fund grant or loans for up to 50 percent of converting devices such as chainsaws, snow blowers and lawn mower, to a clean or high-efficiency motor. Rep. Patrice Arent, the bill’s sponsor, said converting can lower emissions 60 to 90 percent.
"This is a way to help small businesses and individuals who are really trying to make a difference," Arent said.
In order to get a grant or loan, a person would file an application and the state would decide which applications would take the most pollution out of the air for the cost.
"If it’s small business and they’re using their lawnmower every single day in that business that might be a higher and better use of our funds," Arent said.
In order to receive money, people would need to provide evidence that the old motor or equipment had been destroyed.
Dave McNeill, planning manager at the Division of Air Quality, said this kind of equipment is part of a category that emits the second most PM2.5 in the Salt Lake valley and this program would be a way of controlling the growth of emissions.
"We can’t go in there and mandate," McNeil said. "What we’re trying to do is trying to is instead of telling people they have to do it we’re providing a way to incentivize buying cleaner lawnmowers and tillers and whatever."
The bill requests $200,000 for the program and Arent said if the program works then lawmakers can provide more money next year.
The committee also unanimously passed a bill aiming to help lower the pollution from state vehicles.
SB99 would require 50 percent of all passenger vehicles purchased by the state be low-emissions vehicles such as hybrid, electric or compressed-natural gas. The proposal previously passed the Senate and now goes to the full House.
"The idea behind this is stewardship," said bill sponsor Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City. "This is something simple to do and I want to be a good example. I think the state can be a good example and it doesn’t cost that much extra."
Some committee members expressed concern about using natural-gas powered vehicles because there are many areas in Utah that do not have CNG filling stations. Jenkins said many cars that are converted to use natural gas still have the conventional gas system in place which can be used as a backup.
"I don’t see a downside to this," Jenkins said.
Carl Ingwell of the Utah Clean Air Alliance said the alliance supports the legislation.
"We, the public, have been asked to clean up our act for a long time and it would look really good if the state took the first step in doing that and showed us what they can do," Ingwell said.
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