HERBERT NAMES 'ACTION TEAM' TO FIGHT DIRTY AIR: Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced the creation last week of a new working group tasked with devising solutions to the Beehive State's persistent air pollution problems. The 38-member panel, dubbed the Clean Air Action Team, will have until the end of 2014 to work out "practical and effective strategies to improve Utah's air quality," Herbert said. The team includes members from a wide spectrum of philosophies, including health care providers, business interests, environmentalists, lawmakers and academics. Herbert said he wanted the team to be diverse to ensure all possible ideas are considered. "This isn't a matter of feel-good stuff, but getting results," Herbert told reporters at a press event at the Capitol last Tuesday. "There are no possible solutions that won't be reviewed. There are no sacred cows." Utah, and the Salt Lake Valley in particular, has endured some of the nation's worst smog periods in recent years, often falling out of compliance with federal limits on fine particulate in the air. Even falling out of compliance just 5 percent of the time has created serious problems in and around Salt Lake City, where winter inversion layers have often created a thick brown cloud that stubbornly lies near ground level, practically obscuring buildings and forcing many residents to stay inside for days at a time. "We want to meet the standard 100 percent of the time," he said. "One day of bad air is one day too many. We are not going to be just 'good enough.'" Herbert's announcement came on the same day the state Division of Air Quality hosted a public hearing on its plan to curb wintertime air pollution. Utah has until 2019 to come into compliance with federal clean air standards in several counties the federal government has designated as being in "non-attainment." That plan calls for dozens of new regulations aimed at curbing emissions from homes, cars and businesses. The plan is open to public input until the end of October. (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, DESERET NEWS [SALT LAKE CITY], UTAH GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)
INSLEE FLOATS WA CAP-AND-TRADE PLAN: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said the Evergreen State should consider the implementation of a cap-and-trade program as part of a wide ranging plan to reduce its production of greenhouse gas emissions that have been linked to global climate change. Inslee made his suggestions to the Washington State Climate Legislative Executive Workshop, a task force lawmakers created this year to help the state reach ambitious reduction goals it adopted in 2008. Those goals include cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, 25 percent less than 1990 levels by 2035 and 50 percent less by 2050. But those objectives currently remain only that — goals with no measurable programs in place to ensure they are reached. Inslee hopes to change that. The cap-and-trade proposal was one of a half dozen he floated, saying he wanted "a belt-and-suspenders, economy-wide approach to capping emissions in this state." He also proposed limiting the carbon content of fuels sold in the state, phasing out coal-fired power plants and making buildings more energy efficient. He also wants each option to be accompanied by a realistic estimate of how much carbon emissions it will trim from the state's long-range greenhouse-gas picture. "We're going to look for the single most cost-effective way of doing this," he said. "Failure is not an option to meeting these legislatively mandated goals." Republican lawmakers on the panel were not as enthusiastic. Sen. Doug Erickson (R) warned that the governor's plan would drive businesses out of state, and suggested that renewed use of nuclear power would have to be included in any long-term suite of emissions-reduction programs. He also said that each potential regulation or program should also include an estimate of how much it will cost to implement. "How do we address for Washington state going it alone on certain issues in terms of the economic impact to manufacturing, job base and agriculture?" he asked. The group is expected to have final recommendations ready for lawmakers by December. (NORTHWEST PUBLIC RADIO, OLYMPIAN, SEATTLE WEEKLY)
ENERGY: The CALIFORNIA Public Utilities Commission unanimously approves first-in-the-nation rules that require Golden State utilities to collectively buy more than 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020, enough to power almost a million homes (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS). • CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoes SB 804, which would have expanded the existing definition of biomass conversion to include non-combustion thermal, chemical or biological processes (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE). • Gov. Brown signs AB 1257, which requires the CALIFORNIA Energy Commission, concurrent with the preparation of its biennial integrated energy policy report, to identify strategies to maximize the benefits obtained from natural gas as an energy source (STATE NET, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE).
ENVIRONMENT: The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear a challenge to a lower court's ruling that granted the federal Environmental Protection Agency power over regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The high court accepted six cases seeking to limit the EPA's control over emissions from sources like power plants, factories and refineries. The six cases will be rolled into one, which will consider the question of whether the EPA's regulation of motor vehicle emissions automatically grants it the same permitting requirements for stationary sources (USA TODAY). • CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs AB 711, which gradually phases in a ban on Golden State hunters using lead-based ammunition. State game officials must develop official regulations by July 1, 2015, with a ban in place by July 1, 2019 (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE). • Gov. Brown also signs AB 1213, which bans the commercial trapping of bobcats on land adjacent to national or CALIFORNIA state parks, national monuments or wildlife refuges (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE).
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
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