SALT LAKE CITY -- Republican leaders announced a new clean air initiative Monday, putting an emphasis on helping motorists transition to compressed natural gas.
At a news conference held on a CNG school bus, Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Ogden, touted the advantages of compressed natural gas in reducing emissions.
Approximately 58 percent of all emissions on the Wasatch Front are linked to tailpipe emissions.
The legislation introduced, SB 275, takes a three-pronged approach in helping that transition, Adams said.
The measure focuses on building CNG fueling stations throughout the state and would create an interlocal agency with the ability to bond for natural gas fleet purchases.
The intent of the measure is to incentivize large fleets of school buses and help municipalities convert to natural gas vehicles, Adams said.
The bill also directs the Public Service Commission to explore options and opportunities for advancing and promoting measures designed to clean up the air and provides a cost-recovery system for a gas corporation that pays for natural gas fueling stations.
Adams said Questar Gas will play a key role in the initiative, being able to reach interlocal agreements with school districts or municipalities to lead the conversion to a cleaner fuel source.
Herbert called the legislation a step in the right direction but warned that it won't solve all air-pollution issues along the Wasatch Front.
All proposals are on the table in trying to address clean air, he said.
Cherise Udell, director of Utah Moms for Clean Air, applauded the bill as a short-term measure but said any long-term solution has to get away from fossil fuels altogether.
It has been a difficult session for legislators on the subject, said Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper. There have been 20 "red air days" this year compared to only one last year.
"We are directly attacking the problem. We know we're a growing community. We've got to look at tailpipes and what is coming out of them," he said.
The issue will become even more important with growth, Hughes said.
Draxler said CNG technology has come a long way.
"It's one tool, among many, that can improve our air quality."