Democrats have a number of ideas on clean air, although Dee said he’s searched the bill files and can’t find proposed laws to match the minority party’s “solutions.”
Dee, R-Washington Terrace, said some of his GOP constituents asked him what the governing GOP Legislature was doing.
Well, Republicans aren’t doing nothing. But they won’t be proposing “subsidies” like the Democrats want, either, he said.
You can read about the Democrats’ ideas here.
Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, the House vice chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee, said that while some Utahns may not realize it – with the really bad air they’ve seen this winter – but the air quality along the Wasatch Front is better today than in the days of coal home heating.
“The air is better and getting better all the time,” Wilson said, because Utah’s economy is doing well, and with adequate incomes people are selling their older cars and trucks and buy new, fuel efficient vehicles that pollute less.
Some may argue, he added, that with the natural growth to more fuel-efficient cars, and the move to alternative fuels or electricity, that Utahns don’t have to do anything but wait 10 or 20 years. “But that is not good enough for us,” Utah GOP leaders, said Wilson.
What really needs to be done is to convert more vehicles to natural gas, said several House Republicans.
But that will take some time, and it will take a lot of money as a new compressed natural gas pipelines and filling stations are built.
Utah has the best transportation/infrastructure planning system in the nation already in place, said House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, who is also chair of the Utah Transit Authority board of directors.
State and local government vehicle fleets are already starting to transfer over to natural gas.
And Republicans will renew – and expand – this session a law that gives tax breaks for converting your private vehicle to natural gas.
One House freshman said he decided to spend $5,000 to convert his truck to natural gas after a new refueling station was built near his house.
At natural gas costing $1.50 per gallon and regular gasoline costing $3.50 per gallon, with his tax credit he’ll pay off his investment in two-and-a-half years.
“It was a no brainer for me,” he said – and it was a free market decision, not a subsidy nor mandate from government.
Rep. Jack Draxler, R-Logan, said he has a bill that will allow a non-EPA-certified vehicle natural gas conversion kit to be purchased and used by Utahns. While still a safe and efficient product, the conversion kit is thousands of dollars less than an EPA-certified kit, because getting certified by the EPA is so costly and time consuming, said Draxler.
But Draxler’s HB96 will cost the Utah treasury $701,000 in fiscal 2014 (the budget lawmakers set this session) and $2.1 million in fiscal 2015.
Dee said he hopes the House GOP caucus will look favorably on the expenditure.
Because the tax credit program is already in place, Draxler said he’s not asking for new money, but a continuation and an expansion of the current alternative fuels tax credit program.
Bad air quality along the Wasatch Front has become “an embarrassment to our state,” said Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara.
Utah’s good economy, work force and living environment greatly help recruiting businesses to locate here, said Snow. But such efforts are made difficult when business leaders see the smog along the Wasatch Front.
Dee said Republicans will find air quality solutions that will work and won’t be “subsidies” like the Democrats are talking about.