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2024 Legislative Session Recap: The Positive Environmental Outlook

First off, we want to take accountability: we did not pass any of our proposed legislation during the 2024 session. 

To reach our legislative goals, we need to change how the state deals with major sources of pollution. Any new or long-time observer of the Utah Legislature knows that it's generally not the friendliest venue for bold action on these issues. 

We know that, too. That's why the O₂ Utah model includes working in elections, developing bi-partisan support, and reframing these topics with specific policy proposals. Going forward, we expect this model to perform better than it did this year.

However, this legislative session was not a complete bust. We want to highlight some of the climate wins from the session and how those bills can advance air quality.

Win 1

Our team laid a great foundation on two important bills related to trucking and rooftop solar bills. The trucking bill, which came very close to the finish line, deals with pre-2010 heavy-duty diesel trucks. 

As a category, these trucks produce as much nitrogen oxide emissions — the critical building block of both our summer and winter pollution problems — as all of our industrial sources on the Wasatch Front. They are basically the equivalent of our refineries, power plants, and big industrial polluters combined! 

If and when we pass this bill in the future, it will be a significant step in our Prosperity 2030 goal — reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.

Win 2

The rooftop solar bill would require Rocky Mountain Power to provide fair, dependable compensation to residents generating excess power from their solar panels. 

This compensation is the key factor in growing rooftop solar, which helps address our dirty air and carbon emissions. Like the trucking bill, we made significant progress and set ourselves up for success during future sessions.

Our work in 2023 on HB 220, which tackled the super pollutant bromine, started long before the 2023 session and eventually flowered into the most impactful air quality bill Utah passed in decades. We're confident in the seeds we planted this year and hope to have more fruit to share in the coming years. 

Win 3

A handful of other positive climate bills passed, including loosening restrictions on the Community Renewable Energy Program to allow more communities to join. This program — the most significant opportunity in Utah to reduce our carbon footprint — enables communities to work with Rocky Mountain Power to achieve net-100% renewable energy by 2030. 

Win 4

A number of community organizations fended off efforts to greenlight the notorious Parleys Canyon gravel pit, which would negatively impact air quality in the Salt Lake Valley.

We also want to highlight the efforts of Rep. Andrew Stoddard, Sen. Kirk Cullimore, Sen. Stephanie Pitcher, Rep. Tyler Clancy, Sen. Luz Escamilla, Sen. Nate Blouin, Rep. Joel Briscoe and Rep. Paul Cutler, among many others, who championed air quality and climate bills.  

While it's disappointing not to see the immediate results we all hope for, we're proud of our team's work leading up to and throughout the session. 


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