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Plans for a purportedly dirty power plant, and another potentially dangerous power plant, would be put on hold by a pair of bills proposed in the Utah Legislature.

House Bill 393, sponsored by Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, would wisely place a moratorium on new power plants in parts of Utah where fine-particle pollution exceeds federal clean air standards during winter-time temperature inversions.

The ban, which would be lifted in July 2011, would apply to counties along the northern Wasatch Front. Low-emission power plants, like those that burn natural gas, would be exempt. The bill is designed to give Utah Division of Air Quality officials time to establish siting criteria for power plants and other sources of pollution in order to comply with new federal air-quality regulations.

House Bill 440, sponsored by Rep. Jay Seegmiller, D-Sandy, would place some much-needed restrictions on nuclear power plant construction in the state.

The bill would require operators to obtain permission from the state Public Service Commission before building a plant. Permits could only be issued if the plant would be "economically advantageous to ratepayers," and only if there is a federally licensed facility in the United States that would accept the plant's high-level nuclear waste.

The bills would apply to any new power plant, but they appear to target two in particular.

Barrus' bill would put the brakes on a proposed plant that would burn petroleum waste products -- residual fuel oil and solid petroleum coke left over from the refining process. It would be built next to the Holly Refinery in Davis County, but the proposal has generated grass-roots opposition from citizens groups concerned about air pollution and its health implications.

Seegmiller's measure would block construction of a nuclear power plant proposed for the Green River area of Emery County, probably for a long, long time.

Due to the exorbitant cost of building nuclear plants, it would be difficult to prove that ratepayers would benefit. And, because the federal government, after decades of political wrangling, has failed to build a disposal facility for spent fuel, the plant would have no legal place to store its high-level waste if the law is enacted.

Neither plant is a good idea. Nuclear power plants are expensive and potentially dangerous. And burning fossil fuels along the Wasatch Front will only make our bad air worse. Lawmakers should approve both of these bills.