PRESS RELEASE: Utah’s Legislature is First in Conservative State to Officially Recognize Climate Change


Utah’s Legislature is First in Conservative State to Officially Recognize Climate Change
Governor leads ceremonial signing of resolution

Salt Lake City, May 16, 2018 — Today, Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed Utah’s landmark climate change resolution, HCR 007 Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship, which recognizes the reality of a changing climate, the impact of human activity, and the state’s opportunities to respond to it. Governor Herbert was joined by the student coalitions, local advocacy organizations, and Utah businesses that all championed this bill.

Local students first brought the idea of a climate change resolution forward late in the 2017 session. Representative Rebecca Edwards (R), realizing the serious threats that a changing climate had on economic development and the people of Utah, joined forces with the students and prepared to sponsor the resolution in the 2018 session. She and her Senate sponsor, Senator Todd Weiler (R), worked tirelessly to assure the climate change resolution would pass in the 2018 Legislative Session.

“This resolution shows us that climate change is a non-partisan issue that can no longer be ignored,” Representative Edwards said. “The climate change resolution is groundbreaking for our state but to successfully tackle the effects that a changing climate has on our economy and health, we need to continue to collaborate across party lines.”

Utah is the first conservative state legislature to pass a resolution acknowledging the existence of climate change, its causes, and the need for solutions. While the resolution is careful to note that any efforts to mitigate climate change should not damage the state’s economy or global competitiveness, it also prioritizes understanding the science behind climate change and supports further environmental stewardship and innovation. This reverses the Utah Legislature’s position stated in a 2010 resolution that implied climate change science was a conspiracy and urging the Environmental Protection Agency to stop all carbon dioxide reduction policies and programs.

“This Concurrent Resolution recognizes Utah’s successful, market-based approach to advancing economic growth and environmental solutions, such as reducing carbon emissions from its power generation portfolio by roughly 15% over the past decade,” said Dr. Laura Nelson, Governor Herbert’s Energy Advisor. “I’m confident that these successes can be continued and even accelerated through Utah’s ongoing commitment to strategic investment in infrastructure and technology.”

The climate change resolution passed in Utah’s House 46-24 and in the Senate 23-3. Local businesses backed the resolution, including Rocky Mountain Power, Rio Tinto, Utah Solar Energy Association, Ski Utah, several ski resorts, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Garbett Homes, and the Utah Technology Council.

“By not acknowledging climate change, we felt like Utah wasn’t considering our future” Piper Christian, a student at Logan High School who was part of the student coalition, stated. “But with the climate change resolution, our voices, and futures, are finally being heard.”

Other stakeholders who worked on the resolution, including HEAL Utah, Action Utah, and the local affiliates of the Citizens Climate Lobby, hail this resolution as a victory but consider it just the beginning.

“The language of the resolution reflects Utah’s willingness to depoliticize climate change and approach it as a scientific, economic, and environmental issue. This is a major step forward for bringing climate into Utah’s public discussions,” HEAL Utah’s Senior Policy Associate Michael Shea said. “Multiple organizations are now considering how the resolution’s intent can be put into practice with specific change in policy.”


About HEAL Utah

HEAL Utah has been an environmental advocate, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah for nearly 20 years. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and pursuing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. HEAL focuses on improving air quality, promoting renewable energy, combating climate change, and protecting Utah from hazardous wastes.