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- HB 220 Update
HB 220 Update
The plan to target bromine pollution
We have the plan to stop US Magnesium's reckless polluting.
The plan is HB 220 (Emissions Reduction Amendments) and it is currently up for a vote in the legislative session.
The bill focuses specifically on reducing bromine pollution, like US Magnesium emits, which has an outsized impact on our inversions.
HB 220 serves as phase 1 of Prosperity 2030 — our legislative framework with the goal of reducing emissions by 50% along the Wasatch Front.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of HB 220, let’s look at the root of the issue.
Midlatitude Ozone Depletion and Air Quality Impacts Study
This is the study that’s been in the news recently, and for good reason.
The study ultimately concluded that US Magnesium, a magnesium producer located on the west side of the Great Salt Lake, is responsible for increasing the winter-time inversion pollution by up to 25%.1
The study found that a single gas, bromine, was largely responsible for causing powerful chemical reactions that convert gasses into unhealthy small particles (PM2.5) along the Wasatch Front.
Our bad air days are characterized by how much PM2.5 accumulates in our air. PM2.5 refers to microscopic droplets less than 2.5 microns in diameter that negatively impact your lungs and heart.
On average, the Salt Lake Valley has 18 days per year when PM2.5 levels exceed the national air quality standards and even more days when bad air harms our health.2
This critical study identified the powerful harm that one pollutant has in our unique airshed — something that was previously not widely understood. Neither state nor federal law directly regulates bromine as an air pollutant.
A closer look at HB 220
As we mentioned above, HB 220 is just part of our ultimate Prosperity 2030 goal. And if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice HB 220 looks slightly different now than it did even a few weeks ago.
When we introduced HB 220 at the beginning of the legislative session there was a lot in it. Even though it’s just the first phase of Prosperity 2030, the bill was a 60-page piece of legislation.
It had new programs for reducing vehicle pollution, ways to address pollution from railroads, standards for pollution-free construction for our homes and buildings, and pollution caps for the inland port. It also had a section limiting bromine pollution along the Wasatch Front.
Based on our conversations with legislators about that massive bill, we’ve decided to focus in on passing one short — but powerful — section from the original legislation: bromine pollution.
The newly-modified HB 220 will advance a policy requiring the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) to reduce bromine emissions by 90% by 2026.
The kicker? The new version of HB 220 has bi-partisan support, including from our sponsors Rep. Andrew Stoddard (D) and Sen. Kirk Cullimore (R).
The other kicker? HB 220, as modified, is a giant step toward Prosperity 2030’s goals. Research indicates that bromine pollution from just one source is increasing our winter pollution problem by up to 25%. A major win!
It is not hyperbole to say if this bill passes it will be among the most significant pieces of air quality legislation in Utah’s history. And we will be back next year to work on the rest of the policies from the original HB 220 bill and Prosperity 2030.
How can you help?
With less than two weeks left of the legislative session, it’s crucial to reach out to your representatives and ask them to support HB 220. This is an issue we can take control of right now with your help.
Plus, you can join us this Thursday for our final Citizen Lobby Day and meet face-to-face with your representatives.
Let your representatives know the current state of our air is unacceptable. One company increasing our inversion by up to 25% is unacceptable. And standing by and letting it continue is unacceptable.
O₂ Utah is an environmental nonprofit whose mission is to clean our state's air and eliminate our contributions to climate change through elections and policy. Donate today to support our work and clean Utah's air.