Scott Williams, HEAL Utah Executive Director
Michael Shea, HEAL Utah Senior Policy Associate
HEAL Utah is proud to introduce its new Executive Director, Dr. Scott Williams.
Dr. Williams is a long-time resident of Utah who has served as a faculty member in the University of Utah’s Department of Pediatrics, in various executive roles at the Utah Department of Health during the Leavitt administration, and most recently as the chief medical officer in the Mountain Division of the Hospital Corporation of America.
His work in the non-profit sector consists of being the pediatrician at the Salt Lake Indian Health Center, and on boards of multiple organizations, including the Utah Health Information Network and the 4th Street Clinic, where he is currently the board chair.
“HEAL has been a powerful and effective force in Utah, which is why I was so interested in joining the organization,” said Dr. Williams. “HEAL has filled a critical role, beginning as the driving force stopping the nation’s high level nuclear waste from being dumped in Utah. HEAL woke up the local residents and policy makers to the magnitude of these risks and changed the conversation, establishing themselves as committed and well-informed protectors of public health and the environment.”
While continuing to fend off threats of nuclear waste to the health of Utah’s residents, HEAL has since applied its research and advocacy work to local policies supporting clean air and energy. Dr. Williams will bring his many years of clinical and administrative experience to these efforts to ensure a healthier environment throughout the state.
“Air quality is now the most serious health concern to many Utahns who are parents, have chronic illnesses, or just enjoy being outdoors in the nation’s most beautiful state. While some improvements have been made, our winter inversions and summer ozone levels tell us that we still have a long way to go. I look forward to working with HEAL’s amazing staff, board, and 18,000 supporters, along with other citizen organizations and policymakers to ensure that the fight for clean air is stronger than ever, and that we can truly make a difference,” said Williams.
HEAL will be working on a number of bills this upcoming legislative session, including closing the loophole that currently allows diesel vehicles to avoid emission inspections in Utah county, and supporting bills that could increase electric vehicle adoption.
HEAL also recently made a name for itself in the renewable energy world in Utah, joining forces with the solar industry and other advocacy groups to negotiate a settlement with Rocky Mountain Power, ensuring utility rates will encourage the transition to cleaner sources of electricity. HEAL will continue to work towards improving the renewable energy landscape. Because the price of renewable energy consistently drops, the retirement of coal plants becomes a more feasible goal.
“While it is hopeful to see the rapid expansion of renewable energy in recent years, that expansion has to be met with the accelerated retirement of coal plants,” says Williams. “It is great that the market is now working in favor of renewables, but our hotter and longer summers and the resulting stresses on our water supplies and forests are not waiting for the economics to pan out. We need policies to economically transition away from coal while helping the communities whose jobs are affected.”
When not working, Dr. Williams can be found snowshoeing and hiking in Utah’s great mountains and canyons.