Welcome to the 2024 legislative session! Over the next 45 days, the Utah Legislature will meet, vote, and pass hundreds of bills into law.
While this crucial window rightfully garners our attention, O₂ Utah has spent months preparing bills and meeting with our legislative partners to be as effective as possible during the session.
Our legislative framework, Prosperity 2030, aims to reduce emissions by 50% along the Wasatch Front by 2030 — and we have several bills this year to help us achieve that goal and ensure a healthier future for all Utahns.
But first, how does the legislative session work?
From January 16 to March 1, Utah's 104 legislators (75 representatives and 29 senators) meet to discuss bills and eventually decide if they will become law.
Each bill is assigned to a committee of legislators where groups such as O₂ Utah, citizens like you, and stakeholders can testify to the committee on behalf of a bill. Generally, the bill is matched with a related committee like education, transportation, or judiciary.
It is then the committee's job to vote on the bill. If it passes, it moves onto the floor of the House or Senate, where legislators vote on it again. If it passes there, it flips to the other floor for a final vote.
Finally, if a bill passes its committee and both floors, the governor will sign it into law or veto it.
What will O₂ Utah be working on during the session?
We had so much fun passing one bill last year (HB 220) that we are trying to pass a few more bills this year!
Each bill chips away at our Prosperity 2030 goal, focusing on one of the three main buckets of emissions: homes and buildings, transportation, and point sources.
HB 279 (Air Quality Amendments), sponsored by Rep. Tyler Clancy, is a comprehensive policy to set a new goal for the state’s emissions standard. This significant step would make Prosperity 2030’s goal — a 50% emission reduction — a state policy.
Additionally, the bill will ensure Utah is prepared to meet the International Olympic Committee’s air quality standards for the 2034 Games by tackling state-wide emissions targets with a plan independent of the federal government.
HB 126 (Emissions Regulation Amendments), sponsored by Rep. Andrew Stoddard (who also sponsored HB 220 last year), addresses heavy-duty diesel vehicles.
These trucks produce more than 30% of the state's vehicle emissions but account for only 7.5% of the vehicle miles traveled. More specifically, trucks from pre-2010 do not have proper emission reduction technology and have an outsized impact on our airshed. The bill aims to help lawmakers connect the dots between transportation and our poor air quality.
The bill prohibits the Division of Motor Vehicles from registering a motor vehicle in certain counties if the motor vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds and emits a certain level of nitrogen oxides. You can learn more about the impact of heavy-duty vehicles and the science behind the bill here.
In the homes and buildings realm of Prosperity 2030, Sen. Wayne Harper is sponsoring a rooftop solar bill (still waiting to be named and numbered). The bill would result in more accessible rooftop solar, creating clean, carbon-free energy.
Currently, Rocky Mountain Power does not provide full retail rates for net metering credits to residents generating excess energy through rooftop solar. The bill requires RMP to fairly compensate residents for sending energy back to the grid.
Along with these bills, the O₂ Utah team is actively working on additional bills addressing the three buckets of emissions. Of course, we will also advocate for a variety of bills related to water, air, emissions, public lands, and more!
Stay tuned throughout the session for continued updates!
What can you do?
Your representatives must prioritize Utah's air quality as much as you do. It is their job to best represent your interests. So, it is your job to inform them what your interests are.
You can find who represents you here. Call their office or send an email and ask them to vote in favor of air quality bills and other environmental bills. Let them know how Utah's poor air quality affects you and why these issues are important to you.
Legislators hear less from constituents on air quality compared to other issues. This must change if we want our state to take meaningful steps to address our air and health.
Finally, you can always donate to O₂ Utah. Your support goes directly to our time on the Hill during the legislative session as we meet with lawmakers and advocate for bold policies. We are working hard to ensure the health and prosperity of all Utahns. Thank you for your support!
Vote by Mail Legislation
HB 92 (Voting Amendments) is one of several bills that would make vote by mail significantly harder. This bill would eliminate our current vote-by-mail system, forcing voters to request mail-in ballots instead of automatically sending them.
Our partners at Rural Utah Project, along with other coalition members, have created a petition that will automatically send a postcard to your legislators telling them the importance of voting by mail for Utahns.
Easy access to voting by mail is integral for the participation of rural voters across Utah. These bills disproportionately impact rural voters, some of whom would have to make a four-hour commute to their nearest polling location if these bills passed.
Smog Lake City: The Science of Inversions and Plan to Clean Utah’s Air
This storm cycle has not only provided plenty of snow but a much needed break from the inversion. But as we know, it can come back at any time and we’ll be stuck in the smog.
Why is Salt Lake City prone to inversions? What are we trapping beneath it? And how do we clean it up?
Read our latest blog post to learn more about the science behind this unwanted haze, the chemistry that supercharges the smog, and O₂ Utah’s plan for the Legislature to address our air.