On May 10th, the Utah office of energy development announced an updated version of Utah’s Energy and Innovation plan. Our team in the past was able to give some recommendations towards this plan. Some of those recommendations made it in, but there is still a lot of work to ensure clean and equitable energy for Utah.
There are six central commitments in the report.
- Utah is committed to an “any of the above” energy future, supporting efforts and policies that provide a variety of tools and resources that citizens, communities, businesses, and industries can choose from to deliver or obtain affordable, reliable energy.
- Utah is committed to American energy independence, pursuing policies and actions that will enable more domestic energy development and enhance global energy security.
- Utah is committed to pragmatic, market-driven climate solutions that enable innovative energy production. This includes a focus on supporting Utah-based research and development, ensuring we stay good stewards of our environment for future generations of Utahns.
- Utah is committed to supporting rural communities through economic development and diversification efforts, infrastructure investment, and workforce training and development.
- Utah is committed to supporting a clean energy future through a strong and responsible mining program for critical minerals; investment in emerging energy technology such as hydrogen, storage, and energy efficiency; and air quality research and incentive programs.
- Utah is committed to collaboration with its local, regional, and federal partners to pursue infrastructure and innovation projects such as EV charging, transmission, emerging fuel hubs, and coal community support and diversification.
Overall there are reasonable steps in this report. However, the inclusion of coal, oil, and other fossil fuel-based energy sources is still heavily included in the future of Utah’s energy.
“Any of the above.”
We are excited to see the focus on electric vehicles, battery storage, and other renewable energy sources but caution our leaders on their “any of the above” approach. While we understand that there will be a need to mine rare earth minerals and use low carbon to create renewable energy, we cannot use that as an excuse to continue using high emitting energy sources that are damaging the health of our environment and people.
Supporting Rural Communities.
One commitment that our team is excited to see in this plan is the commitment to support rural communities through economic development and diversification efforts, infrastructure investment, and workforce training and development. As we switch over to clean energy infrastructure, we must invest in and support communities that have traditionally relied on fossil fuels for their economic needs. While we are excited to see this commitment, it will all depend on what actions will be taken. We recommend a just and equitable transition to clean energy that includes training programs, investment in clean energy infrastructure, education efforts, and financial assistance.
Energy independence is a hot topic right now. We are all aware of the current war in Ukraine and how private interests have used this humanitarian crisis to push their extractive industries’ agendas. Fossil fuels like oil and gas are connected to a globalized market, making them more volatile. When conflict or economic strife happens abroad, we feel it here at home. Without a rapid transition to clean energy, the US economy and American families will continue to suffer under a volatile and dangerous fossil fuel economy.
What are the next steps?
This energy and innovation plan is only a roadmap for our leaders. We still have the power to adapt and ensure a climate-based energy plan for Utah. We encourage you to reach out to our energy decision-makers, voice your concerns, attend public hearings, fill out action alerts, and organize.
Together we can ensure a clean and equitable energy future for Utah.