SALT LAKE CITY — While the spending does not add up to the $100 million Utah Gov. Gary Herbert requested, millions in one-time money will flow toward air pollution busting strategies along the Wasatch Front — nearly $29 million.
Lawmakers directed money toward a wood stove exchange program, electric vehicle charging stations for both government workers and the public, and a teleworking program.
On days when the air is starting to fill with pollutants, there will be a pool of money in a pilot program to encourage motorists to abandon their vehicles and ride transit.
In addition, the state's fleet of pre-2007 vehicles, a large percentage of which are snowplows, will be retired from the Wasatch Front and replaced.
"If you look at this holistically, $29 million is a lot of money," said Thom Carter, executive director of UCAIR. "It is a big increase over the past."
The wood stove exchange program, which Carter said is extremely popular with the public, will have a direct impact on cutting harmful pollutants during the winter.
"The state has empowered people to make better choices," Carter said.
Utah lawmakers, however, endured the glare of negative publicity for their passage of a bill critics say will make it easier for the storage of depleted uranium at EnergySolutions' Clive facility in Tooele County.
Depleted uranium, while classified as low-level radioactive waste at disposal, becomes more radioactive over time. It is derived from the uranium enrichment process and used in medical and military applications because of its density.
Under the measure, the material cannot be stored in Utah unless the U.S. Department of Energy says it will assume site responsibility in perpetuity and EnergySolutions completes a site specific performance assessment that receives the approval of the radiation control director.
Herbert has indicated he's not likely to veto the measure.
Lawmakers also took up multiple bills dealing with water and instituted significant reforms.
A proposal by Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, will require secondary water providers that begin new design work for certain users after April 1, 2020, to meter that water.
In addition, secondary water providers will have to develop metering plans to submit to the state by the end of this year that include costs. A task force on secondary water metering will be established within the Utah Department of Natural Resources to help identify the hurdles, and systems can tap into $10 million in loans from the state Board of Water Resources.
A couple of measures that passed deal with transparency and accountability for ratepayers. Water systems will have to post service maps and provide accountability on rates that may be different for customers who live outside those boundaries.Comment on this story
Voters also will be asked in 2020 to amend the Utah Constitution to allow cities greater flexibility on how that "surplus" water is handled.
Provided the promised $45 million comes through from other sources, Utah lawmakers say they will pony up $5 million to help the ailing Bonneville Salt Flats.
As Utah's farmlands are increasingly surrounded by new homes, lawmakers acted to protect those farmers who remain by passing a measure that tightens the threshold for bringing a nuisance lawsuit due to smells, noise or flies.