When $300,000 Takes On $145 Billion

By Michael Shea, HEAL Utah Policy Associate

I know sometimes it feels like being an environmentalist in Utah is like fighting the tide. But, I am here to tell you, fresh from my first legislative session with HEAL: We DO make a difference.

HEAL’s ability to be up at the legislature each day of the 45 day session made bad bills better.  It helped good bills pass (Yeah for cleaner hot water heaters and longer timeframes to investigate polluters!)Let me tell you a bit more about one example: This session, I focused in large part on a bill called STEP, pushed by Rocky Mountain Power. STEP was a bafflingly complex piece of legislation to change the way electricity rates are regulated—with big consequences for clean energy as well as rates for all energy users.

MoneyInPoliticsWe decided to oppose the bill, but boy, did that mean an uphill battle. To help put this in perspective – let’s look at the resources of the different entities involved. Rocky Mountain Power is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is a $145 billion company. HEAL (whose budget is just over $300,000) was one of the main opponents of the bill. We had it on good knowledge that our friends from Nebraska really wanted the bill to go through, and put their financial weight behind it, which meant a small army of lobbyists. Lots of them.  More lobbyists than I had tater tot lunches at the Capitol. (Yes, a lot!)

So the battle began. HEAL and a few of our rag-tag band of allies (shout-out especially to Utah Clean Energy!) went up against the best money could buy. We spoke to each member of the Senate and House—sometimes twice.  We distributed fact sheets.  We followed the byzantine movements of the bill through committees and floor time, through countless substitutions. We alerted YOU– our members— as to when to take action so that your voice could be heard.  We held press conferences and helped ensure the media covered this important issue.  We worked with allies from all sectors who were concerned about the far-reaching consequences of this legislation.

In the end, the bill passed, just barely.  But most importantly, it had improved significantly between January 25 and March 11. We managed to fight off changes that could have doomed rooftop solar, in just one example.

luguThat wouldn’t have happened without the tireless, often thankless, work fighting the tide as environmentalists in Utah. Your support of small enviro groups in Utah MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE. (Click here how to help HEAL as part of Love Utah, Give Utah. A gift of just $10 counts!)

Your support helps us do that.

So whether you give $10 or $100 via Love Utah, Give Utah, that money helps HEAL stand toe to toe with some the of the biggest companies in world. That’s quite the return on investment.  Thank you!