Utah has made significant progress to improve air quality in recent years, and we can all be proud that our air today is cleaner than it has been in decades.

However, that doesn’t mean we should stop doing our part to keep cleaning up our air — whether through our everyday actions as Utahns or through the policies we pass in at the state Capitol.

From my view as one of the co-chairs of the Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, that is what makes the recent passage of the infrastructure bill in Washington so monumental. It will provide critical and necessary investments in infrastructure solutions and clean energy technologies to help Utah continue to clean up our dirty air, which will help improve the quality of life and health of Utahns for generations while spurring economic growth. 

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The bipartisan infrastructure deal Congress passed — shaped in large part during negotiations in which Sen. Mitt Romney played a critical leadership role — provides new opportunities for Utah to expand, strengthen and modernize our transportation and energy infrastructure. Not only will that help us continue to develop innovative solutions to address our often unhealthy air, it will also create jobs for hardworking Utahns while attracting new businesses and workers to relocate to our state and help grow a stronger economy.

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Among other critical priorities, the bipartisan infrastructure law provides more than $7.6 billion in funding for states to purchase low- and zero-emission buses as well as retrofit existing buses and facilities in order to reduce emissions and increase our fleet of electric-powered vehicles.

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The law also provides Utah with roughly $36 million over the next five years to expand our electric vehicle charging infrastructure — as well an additional $2.5 billion in electric vehicle charging grants available to all states.

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Given that 50% of our pollution comes from vehicles, these investments in clean energy technology will help us continue to reduce emissions, leading to cleaner air for our communities, improved quality of life for Utahns and a stronger, more resilient economy for the entire state and country.

I am grateful to Sen. Romney for working across the aisle to help secure such an important win for Utah and our efforts to advance clean energy and improve air quality across the Beehive State.

State Rep. Steve Handy represents Utah’s 16th Legislative District, and is a co-chair of the Clean Air Caucus.

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