We were not planning on sending an email out today, but then yesterday’s depressing announcement from Washington happened.
Obviously, when a candidate runs for office promising to do a terrible thing, and then actually does it, it is not the biggest shock. However, given the diverse array of voices who urged President Trump to remain a party in the Paris climate accords — not just environmentalists, but Mitt Romney and business leaders including the CEOs of General Electric, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, a glimmer of hope was perhaps justified.
But, sadly, hope and Donald Trump don’t belong in the same sentence.
We at HEAL reacted immediately, pointing out the obvious: Climate change poses serious threats to Utah. And, of course: Acting aggressively to transition to clean energy and a low-carbon future will help our economy, not hurt it. (See our statement to the press and resulting coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.)
We made one more point in our press statement that I want to explain further. Despite our disappointment and frustration today, we do still have hope. We have hope because for years now, leadership and climate change has come not from Washington, but from citizens, communities and cities.
You can see that in today’s strong statement from Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who has furthered the strong policies of the Salt Lake City Council and her predecessor Ralph Becker in taking strong steps toward ambitious carbon reduction goals. I don’t think this got nearly enough attention, but Salt Lake City has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2040. And they’re not alone. Park City and Summit County are also taking the lead.
Whatever nonsense you see and read from Washington today, the strong leadership of local communities, even in Utah, doesn’t change. What also doesn’t change is the work that HEAL Utah and other groups are doing to take positive steps forward on climate. That certainly includes our campaign to protect the affordability of rooftop solar for Utah families, under attack by our monopoly utility Rocky Mountain Power. (While we’re on that topic, if you didn’t have a chance earlier this week to send a pro-solar message to Governor Herbert and the Public Service Commission, click here now to do so.)
In addition to our work promoting renewable energy, we are also of course trying to hasten the closure of Utah’s dirty and aging coal power plants, pushing measures to boost the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings and fighting to build a world-class transit system which can get our citizens out of their cars.
So, it’s fair to be pissed off today. But, despite the bad news from Washington, our mayors, our city councilmembers and nonprofits like HEAL Utah will continue to take the lead as we have for decades.