When CRES Forum Director of Policy and Advocacy Charles Hernick agreed to speak on a Climate Action Panel in Salt Lake City for the recent Governor’s Energy Summit, he probably couldn’t have predicted just how momentous that event and the days that followed would be for the Beehive State.
Governor Gary Herbert (R-UT) and CRES Forum’s Charles Hernick
At the end of the Summit, Governor Gary Herbert unveiled his “Energy Action Plan” for Utah, which outlined 10 commonsense goals:
- Target Rural Business Development
- Support Energy Research, Demonstration and Development Initiatives
- Expand Education Initiatives
- Continue to Organize Energy and Minerals Events
- Continued Improvement in Utah Energy Efficiency Investments
- Infrastructure Development for Alternative Fuels
- Engage in Policy and Regulatory Matters
- Expand Regional Engagement
- Increase All-of-the-Above Energy Communications
- Advance the Air-Energy Nexus
This is a simple, straightforward approach for securing Utah’s energy future, and we encourage other states to model their own energy plans after it. We can’t wait to see how the state puts these goals into action, and we will be sure to keep you informed.
If that plan weren’t enough reason to admire Utah, its leaders gave us another in the week that followed the summit. The Utah State Legislature, which has large Republican majorities in both chambers, took another huge step by passing a resolution, HCR 007 Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship, which the Governor signed into law.
HCR 007 is a watershed moment for the state because it “recognizes the impacts of a changing climate on Utah citizens” and “encourages the reduction of emissions through incentives and the support of growth in technologies and services that enlarge the economy.”
We recognize not only Governor Herbert’s leadership on these issues, but also State Representative Rebecca Edwards and State Senator Todd Weiler, both Republicans, for their roles as lead sponsors on HCR 007. We thank all legislators who voted for the resolution.
While we applaud Utah’s bipartisan stand on climate change, we know many Republicans remain skeptical on this issue—and we respect their views. That’s why CRES has always been primarily focused on the benefits of clean energy that are most appealing to conservatives: economic growth, job creation, and national security.
The fact is that America has an increasing demand for energy, and traditional resources won’t be enough to meet them in the coming decades. We need to tap into every energy resource that is practical—from renewables like wind and solar to cleaner-burning fuels like natural gas to traditional fossil fuels.
We also need to keep up innovation to make more efficient use of our energy, such as emerging storage technology, carbon capture, an updated grid and improved infrastructure, and so on. We know the policies we implement today and the investments we make now will deliver spectacular returns and will preserve America’s global leadership through the 21st Century.
Utah’s energy economy contributes $20.9 billion a year and supports 60,000 jobs, according to the Governor’s Office of Energy Development.
The state ranks third in the country for geothermal production, 11th in oil and natural gas production and is No. 6 in the country for installed solar capacity. It ranks No. 2 per capita in solar capacity.
Congratulations to the Governor, the Legislature, and all Utahans for committing to a bold new direction. And kudos to Charles for his thoughtful contributions on the Climate Action Panel—this is a perfect example of how every little bit of advocacy makes a difference.