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Proposed Utah water-heater pollution rule will get day in sun

Published November 19, 2015 11:57 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A rule against the sale of water heaters that emit a polluting gas was pulled before it went into effect, but will get another chance in the Legislature next year.

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, told a panel of lawmakers on Wednesday that said he will sponsor the rule, which would bar the sale of water heaters that do not qualify as ultra-low-nitrogen-oxide (low-NOx) emitters after Nov. 1, 2017.

The rule was uncontested when the Air Quality Board passed it in September, but on Oct. 30, the rule was placed on a "sunset list" by the Administrative Rules Review Committee after the Utah Home Builders Association raised questions about whether the board could legally pass a rule regulating emissions from household appliances.

The Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to ask for input from the Uniform Building Code Commission, but Powell said he will sponsor the bill regardless of what the commission has to say. He told members of the interim committee that he thought the rule was a relatively painless solution to one of the state's most pressing issues — poor air quality.

Nitrogen oxide is one of the pollutants that contribute to the formation of the harmful particulate matter (PM) 2.5 during inversions in Utah.

The cost of the low-NOx water heaters was of concern to lawmakers. Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the owner/operator of a plumbing wholesaler, said he'd asked some of his suppliers about the cost of selling low-NOx water heaters in Utah and found that, on average, the low-emissions heaters would cost about $150 more than regular heaters.

Bryce Bird, the director of the state Division of Air Quality (DAQ), said his staff had conducted an online search to estimate the price difference between low-NOx units and those that don't meet the requirements. He said that Lowe's website on Wednesday showed that low-NOx units were $60 more.

DAQ scientists previously said the difference was an average of $10.

Jenkins said he'd also inquired about the emissions from the low-NOx heaters and was told that the low-NOx models released about 75 percent less emissions than regular models. He said did not want to run a bill that would increase homeowners' expenses, but intimated that this rule would not be overly burdensome.

Rules placed on the sunset list may be excluded from the Legislature's annual reauthorization of state administrative rules, unless legislative or administrative action changes the rule's status.


Twitter: @EmaPen




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