SALT LAKE CITY — A measure that helps pave the way to cleaner burning natural gas water heaters in Utah received unanimous approval from a committee of lawmakers on Monday and now advances for the consideration of the full Senate.

HB250, sponsored by Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, directs the Utah Division of Air Quality to move forward on a rule that would require the ultra-low nitrogen oxide burning natural gas water heaters be sold by retailers after July 2018.

Presented in the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment standing committee by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the measure has a two-year implementation window for state regulators to work out any concerns that may arise over the appliances' performance.

Jenkins said the heaters represent the "low-hanging fruit" of effective steps the state can make in its fight to curb air pollution.

"This is relatively easy to do and there's no question it will help clean up our air," Jenkins said.

Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, said up to 75 percent of a water heater's emissions are reduced by moving to these style of appliances.

With homes and area businesses expected to out-strip vehicles as the No. 1 source of valley pollution, the Utah Air Quality Board has been targeting homes as emission sources with the passage of rules clamping down on pollutants.

The board's rule on water heaters, however, ran afoul of a state legislative committee after the homebuilding industry complained changes to building codes can only be made Utah lawmakers.

This measure clearly gives the board that authority.


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