On the day the Environmental Protection Agency approved its new regulations for cleaner gasoline, a legislative committee gave its blessing to a resolution urging state agencies to move quickly to transition to the new fuel in hopes of producing cleaner air.
The non-binding resolution sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, urges the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to work with EPA and Utah refineries to expedite the implementation of the new, cleaner low-sulfur fuels, called Tier 3 fuels.
The adoption of the Tier 3 fuels was one of Gov. Gary Herbert’s top air-quality priorities that he featured in his State of the State address last month.
"This is not a mandate for anyone to do anything," said Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan. "[It] tells us as a state that this is really important for air quality along the Wasatch Front."
The EPA, which issued the final Tier 3 rules Monday morning, has said that of all of the counties in the United States that would benefit from the new fuels, the top seven are all in Utah.
But because of exemptions for small refineries and flexibility in how the new fuels will be rolled out, Arent said it may be years before Utah sees the benefits of the Tier 3 fuels.
Lonnie Bullard, chairman of the board of Jacobsen Construction and a member of the Governor’s Clean Air Action Team, said the fuel standards had unanimous support from the governor’s task force and could make a bigger difference than anything else the state could do.
"I think economic development needs our help in the state. As we add 2.5 million people, it’s imperative that we have the right jobs in Utah to sustain that kind of growth and the best and the brightest coming to Utah," Bullard said. "Getting the best and brightest here will be easier if we have a path to clean air."
Lee Peacock, president of the Utah Petroleum Association, said enacting the new EPA guidelines will be complex. He said Utah is not an island and imports and exports from and to nearby states.
"We need to be very careful what we do from a competitive standpoint, because I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest to put Utah refineries at a competitive disadvantage," Peacock said.
The measure got the unanimous approval from the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee and moves to the full House for consideration.
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