Photo by Grey Jensen – Utah activists Ben Benson, Dayanna Ugalde and Ava Curtis join the call for world leaders to take bold climate action at the September 2021 Global Climate Strike, Salt Lake City
Utah's current Strategic Energy Plan was published in 2011 and updated in 2014. It does not analyze the connection between energy development and climate change nor does it examine the environmental or public health impacts of our state energy policy.
Meanwhile, in Utah, as many as 8,000 deaths annually are attributable to air pollution with a lofty $3.3 billion price tag. This fossil fuel-related air pollution disproportionately damages the health and well-being of low-income communities and the Black, Brown, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and other communities of color in the state.
Utah’s energy plan should improve the regulatory landscape, prioritize and encourage renewable energy development, and take actions that minimize the threats to the state’s air quality and public health.
The current plan lacks the breadth and substance to qualify as a truly sustainable "energy plan." While the governor's Energy Advisor claims an "all-of-the-above" approach, the current plan is, at best, little more than a fossil fuel production plan. It's a testament to the state’s favoritism for the fossil fuel industry and perpetuates Utah's contribution of "cheap" hydrocarbon energy pollution to global warming.
A recent state-by-state energy study ranks Utah #1 for pocketbook affordability, but among the worst [#43] for environmental impacts. How cheap, then, is our continued reliance on coal and natural gas [methane] for electricity?
By not planning to transition rural communities and diversify fossil fuel extractive economies, the existing plan leaves energy workers and their families at risk. It places renewable energy development on the back burner, and fails to support actions needed to advance clean energy development and access across the state.
State leaders have a moral responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our communities by focusing on clean, renewable sources of energy and phasing out fossil fuels while protecting workers and families. The state energy plan should be a key tool to ensure a responsible, intentional, and just transition for Utah. The current version is not; but it's now open for review, and the public has an opportunity to call for revisions to support a renewable, equitable, and just energy economy. You can view the draft energy plan here, and submit your comments today! We also invite you to join us March 24 for a community forum to learn about other actions you can take to influence the state energy plan. By coming together, we can identify areas for collaboration, share resources, and plan for a renewable, equitable, and just energy economy. Learn more and RSVP here.