To the editor:
There is much good in our new governor’s six priorities for his first 500 days. His “One Utah Roadmap” focuses on economic advancement, education, innovation and investment, rural matters, health security, equality and opportunity, and state government efficiency.
After reviewing the “Rural Matters” section, I wish to provide a word of caution. The bullet point stating “Develop state coal and petroleum reserve systems and a mineral reserve system.” is of special concern.
Strong market forces are moving us away from dependency on fossil fuels. The costs for clean, renewable energy sources are now at or below those for fossil fuels, and investment in energy efficiency measures is the greatest job generator at least cost. Many of the world’s largest financial institutions have divested from fossil fuels. The Trump administrations recent opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for energy development had very low interest for these reasons. Additionally, climate and health concerns caused by burning fossil fuels continue to escalate.
Implementing solid, comprehensive plans for rural Utah areas to transition away from oil, gas, and coal must be a major piece of addressing their needs. The Trump administration’s pledge to enhance coal production in Appalachia during his four years never transpired due to lack of demand and other market forces.
Another roadmap that deserves attention is “The Utah Roadmap — Positive Solutions for Climate and Clean Air.” Milepost 6 in this document reads:
“The Utah Coal Country Strike Team – created and managed by the Gardner Institute in mid-2019 to help communities in coal-rich Carbon and Emery counties diversify their economies and raise incomes by 10% – is supported with funds from state government, national foundations, and individuals.”
Innovation is the key word. It has been successful in Carbon County’s Helper, Utah. Neighboring Price is busily looking for answers as well.
The “Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act” in the U.S. Congress also deserves a look. It would provide a few million jobs, improve our health with cleaner air, and provide a carbon dividend check for American families.
Utah is geographically well positioned to become a national leader in clean, renewable energy development. All we lack is the political will.