Industry representatives who helped block Gov. Norm Bangerter's effort to upgrade the state Division of Environmental Health to department level now say they support at least the name change.
"We stop short of giving support to that broad unknown that has yet to be decided," said Jim Peacock, executive director of the Utah Petroleum Association.Peacock and representatives of the Utah Manufacturers Association, Utah Mining Association and Farm Bureau met with the governor Tuesday to ask that they be included in deciding what would come after the name change.
The governor surprised lawmakers as well as lobbyists earlier this year when he announced he wanted the Legislature to turn the environmental health division into the Department of Environmental Quality.
Concerns were raised by the petroleum, mining, manufacturing and farm industries, who feared the division's elevated stature would result in additional environmental regulations by the state.
So legislators, who also had some doubts about the need for the department, decided to form a committee to study the question. The committee will make its recommendations to the 1991 Legislature.
And the governor's office, too, organized a task force chaired by Lt. Gov. Val Oveson to advise the legislative committee on the reasons the new department is needed.
Information compiled by the governor's staff shows that most other states, including Wyoming, already have separate departments that deal with environmental issues.
Officials in 11 of the states formed their environmental departments from their departments of health, similar to what Bangerter is trying to do. Most say they did so because of increased emphasis on environmental issues.
That's the same reason the governor cited in his State of the State address last January, when his first announced he wanted a new Department of Environmental Quality.
Industry officials aren't so sure that is the only thinking behind the new department. They question whether elevating the division to department level will cost taxpayers more money in staffing and salary increases.
And there's a worry that a department will come up with more regulations for them to follow. "Additional rules and regulations could be very detrimental to the economy these organizations represent," Peacock said.