- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Gov. Gary Herbert has signed eight bills to clear Utah’s murky wintertime skies.

Herbert took the action during a ceremony Friday attended by clean-air advocates including some lawmakers who pushed for the legislation.

Among other things, the new laws will facilitate electrical vehicle charging stations, help homeowners transition heating sources from wood-burning stoves to cleaner ones, provide tax credits for energy efficient vehicles, and encourage the use of biodiesel fuel, KTVX-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1rvo5JY ).

“We passed more clean air bills this session than in my 13 prior sessions combined. We had a number of really great proposals,” said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek.

But advocacy groups are disappointed that some bills failed to make it through the Legislature. One unsuccessful measure would have allowed the state to set its own air-quality standards beyond those of the federal government, and another bill would have allowed counties to increase the sales tax to improve public transportation.

“Legislators are thinking about the bills they’ll be running next year right now, so it’s important the public continues to communicate that air quality is a priority to us,” said Erin Mendenhall, policy director of Breathe Utah.

Arent said the eight bills signed by Herbert represent a beginning, not an end, of legislation to improve Utah’s air quality. “There is no silver bullet, one bill that will clean up our air. We still have a lot more work to do,” she said.

Ted Wilson, director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership, urged continued bipartisanship on the issue by lawmakers. “It’s a thrill to see that started that way,” he said.

Regulators say wood smoke and emissions stay trapped in valleys for weeks at a time because of Utah’s mix of mountainous landscape and weather patterns.

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Information from: KTVX-TV, http://www.abc4.com/