Utah’s energy demand is increasing due to its rapidly growing population. In order to reduce the negative impact on the environment and our health, it is crucial to lessen our reliance on fossil fuel production and to rapidly develop renewable energy projects on both small and large scales. This transition towards renewable energy not only benefits the environment and our health but also ensures a stable economy and job opportunities for the people of Utah.
Utah currently generates 57% of its electricity from coal, 28% from natural gas, and 15% from renewable sources. With 85% of its energy resources coming from fossil fuels, it is crucial to invest in renewable energy projects for a fair and climate-safe future. Fortunately, Utah is well-placed to lead the energy transition by investing in both utility-scale and small-scale renewable energy.—a breakdown of each energy consumption below.
As of 2022, Utah was the 12th largest coal producer in the United States, generating 22,391 Gigawatt hours. Coal accounted for 57% of Utah’s total electricity generation.
In 2022, Utah ranked as the 13th largest producer of marketed gas in the United States, generating 11,064 Gigawatt hours. Gas accounted for 28% of Utah’s total electricity generation.
In 2022, solar power generated 3,850 gigawatt hours, making up 9.84% of Utah’s total electricity generation.
Wind power produced 724 Gigawatt hours, contributing only 1.85% to Utah’s total electricity generation in 2022.
Find a complete breakdown here.
Health Effects of Fossil Fuel Energy
Conventional energy sources, such as coal-fired power plants and oil and gas production, pose a significant threat to our environment and health, particularly impacting children and the elderly.
Elevated levels of air pollutants from fossil fuels, such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, have led to a surge in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, including lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Early exposure to these pollutants also increases the risk of developmental impairment, asthma, and cancer.
The escalating greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are driving climate change, resulting in a range of health risks. These include more frequent and severe heatwaves, extreme weather events, and the spread of infectious diseases, impacting vulnerable populations and straining healthcare systems.
Supporting Communities in Transition
As Utah transitions away from fossil fuels, we must ensure that we’re building strong and resilient communities. This means investing in workers and the middle-class, creating new job opportunities, and training the workforce required to move toward a clean energy future. A sustainable transition requires not only technological advancements but also social and economic measures to support affected communities.
HEAL Utah's Renewable Energy Priorities
HEAL Utah works to advance a clean energy future that not only reduces emissions and stabilizes the climate, but also promotes adaptation, resilience, health equity, and economic opportunity in our communities. We do this by prioritizing policies that support the development of renewable energy sources, This includes promoting renewable energy, battery storage technologies, and low-carbon transportation options that reduce our reliance on personal vehicles. Additionally, HEAL Utah supports policies that focus on helping communities that have traditionally relied on the fossil fuel industry by investing in new job opportunities, providing the training needed to develop a skilled renewable energy workforce, and offering assistance to those affected by this transition.
Fill out this action alert to encourage your lawmakers to back renewable energy policies, assist fossil fuel workers, promote wind, solar, and battery storage, and raise awareness for a sustainable and healthy future in Utah.
- Pollution from Fossil-Fuel Combustion is the Leading Environmental Threat to Global Pediatric Health and Equity: Solutions Exist by F. Perera (2017).
- Human Health Effects of Air Pollution by M. Kampa and E. Castanas (2008).
- Children Are Likely to Suffer Most from Our Fossil Fuel Addiction by F. Perera (2008).
- Fossil Fuels Are Harming Our Brains: Identifying Key Messages About the Health Effects of Air Pollution from Fossil Fuels by John E. Kotcher, E. Maibach, and Wen-Tsing Choi (2019).
- New Look at BTEX: Are Ambient Levels a Problem? by A. Bolden, C. Kwiatkowski, and T. Colborn (2015).
- Human Health & Environmental Impacts of the Electric Power Sector from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Utah’s Energy and Innovation Plan from the Utah Office of Energy Development