A House bill to enable state air-quality regulators to adopt tougher rules than the feds got a testy reception in committee Friday, but was advanced to the full House.
Rep. Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, said she introduced HB121 as a way to promote "reasonable" standards that are tailored to Utah needs, rather than have the state depend on rules crafted by Washington bureaucrats.
The bill would allow the Utah air quality board to hold a public hearing before enacting tougher rules. That hearing must find that "the more stringent rule will provide essential added protections to public health or the environment of the state or a particular region of the state."
But some of Edwards' Republican colleagues were concerned the bill would give a state agency "carte blanche" to implement regulations that have not been proven to have air-quality benefits.
From the other side of the partisan divide, Rep. Larry Wiley, D-West Valley City, said he is frustrated with the division of air quality's failure to use existing provisions in the law to secure better standards for Utah.
"I want to see if DAQ can pony up and make things happen," Wiley said Friday before the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee. "I would give DAQ as much rope as they want, but they might hang themselves with it in a couple years."
A competing measure pending on the Senate floor, SB164, goes further than Edwards' bill, repealing the old statute that bars DAQ from adopting tougher rules.