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Short takes on issues

Published June 29, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bad and unnecessary law • Utah's latest unnecessary and childishly petulant anti-federal government law cannot be implemented while a lawsuit brought against it is tried in court. HB155 was rightly blocked Friday by a federal judge who said the law appears to be an impermissible attempt to impose the state's will on federal land managers and law enforcement personnel and "creates irreparable harm to the constitutional order." U.S. District Judge David Nuffer issued a preliminary junction pending a final ruling at trial. The federal government is, not surprisingly, suing to have the law overturned, as it would keep federal employees from doing their jobs on federal land and would actually penalize them if they persisted in enforcing the law as they are hired to do. In supporting the legislation — just one of the latest in Utah's long-running, one-sided feud against the federal government — the Utah Sheriffs Association said it merely tries to curtail federal law-enforcement abuses in which agents arrest citizens for state offenses. The judge said if the officers act illegally, those cases can be handled individually in court, but HB155 overreaches by blocking all enforcement of federal laws that reference Utah statutes.

Cleaner transit • Natural gas is a more clean-burning fuel than diesel or gasoline. The Utah Transit Authority seems to recognize this fact, and its move toward a less-polluting fleet of buses will be good for the air we breathe. UTA just took delivery of its first 10 compressed natural gas buses, due to start carrying passengers on Aug. 18, the next schedule-change day for the transit agency. The new buses are being painted and prepared, and drivers and mechanics are receiving training so all will be ready for roll-out day. Vehicle emissions are a major cause of the toxic air that settles along the Wasatch Front, especially during winter inversions and summertime heavy-ozone days. Red-alert periods are coming more often and lasting longer. If the Legislature would now provide incentives such as free bus fares during the worst pollution days to get more Utahns to change their driving and commuting habits, the cleaner UTA fleet could begin to make a real difference in air quality.