Herbert ignores clean air advocates concerns, signs wood-burning bill

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Herbert signed HB 65, which prohibits future regulation on wood burning for commercial and non-commercial use if the primary purpose is to cook food.

The nonprofit organization HEAL Utah who advises Herbert on air quality had previously urged him to veto the bill. The board, made up of eight members all appointed by Herbert, was shocked the bill was signed.

A press release by HEAL Utah said restrictions that prevented things like using a BBQ on certain air days was never the intention of the law, but given Utah’s air quality crisis, and the fact Utah has failed federal health standards for about a decade, they had no choice.

Ashley Soltysiak of HEAL Utah said in a press release:

“It’s baffling that Gov. Herbert ignored the advice of the diverse panel of air quality experts he appointed. The message this new law sends is that it’s open season for deep-pocketed businesses who want to gut air quality policy.”

“When it comes to Utah’s troubled air quality, there is no silver bullet. As our population grows, we must be willing to take a hard look at all sources of emissions. To do so, we should rely on data-driven analysis from air quality professionals, not public policy paid for by Traeger Grills.”

For more information, Fox 13’s Ben Winslow previously reported on this.

Denni Cawley of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Executive Director released a statement:

“Today is not a good day for Utah’s air quality.  We are truly disheartened to learn that Gov. Herbert has signed HB 65 that will prohibit future regulation on wood burning for commercial or non-commercial cooking, no matter how bad our air quality is.  This is such an ill-conceived bill that the Air Quality Board asked the Governor to veto it.  As they cited in their letter: Wood burning has a significant effect on PM 2.5 concentrations.  We are surprised and saddened that the interests of a business that sells grills have been prioritized over the health of our community.  Wood smoke is extremely toxic, especially to those in the immediate vicinity.”

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, however, defended the bill in a Facebook post:

“The democrat liberal agenda focuses on dividing Americans into aggrieved subsets of our community. Every political issue seems to revolved around outrage and injustice. Everyone is offended or worse.

Average, everyday Americans have watched this narrative play out and even bought into it a while. Barack Obama became President and was re-elected President with the support of Middle America. They were not aggrieved, they were not outraged or suggering from injustice but supported a candidate for President who would rightly protect those that were being harmed and called for this country to unite together. Eight years of the Obama Administration have lead to race relations becoming strangely worse than in anyone’s recent memory. The voices of outrage and injustice have multiplied and have become more shrill.

Today we can add the average Joe and Jane that seek to grill their food in their backyards for their family gatherings or friendly get-togethers to the long list of oppressors and evil doers. Middle America, you are officially the enemy.

Donald J Trump was elected President because there were enough Americans who caught on to this arrogant and manipulative political tripe. They began to realize that they themselves were being branded as what is wrong with our country. The liberal elitists lost the confidence of everyday Americans and are undeterred by the outcome of the November elections. They are doubling down on their outrage and attacks on all of us.

Unreal.”