Home Greenhouse What is Utah doing to fight air pollution, greenhouse gases? | Opinion

What is Utah doing to fight air pollution, greenhouse gases? | Opinion


“With great power comes great responsibility,” says someone in every superhero movie ever made.

This commonly used quote is especially relevant now given the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to restrict the EPA’s ability to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The move has, for now, given Utah leaders significant power to fight climate change. The Legislature and Governor Spencer Cox are now in the driver’s seat when it comes to protecting Utahans from harmful pollution and steering our state toward a cleaner, healthier, low-carbon future.

It is true that our Congress delegates also have a great responsibility in the face of climate change, probably the greatest challenge of our time. Congress should act to invest in clean energy and resilient infrastructure, but now more than ever, states must take the lead in addressing the climate crisis.

The Legislature should set clear, ambitious, and data-driven goals to address our state’s chronic air quality challenges and the urgent and existential crisis of climate change. We cannot allow our legislature to shirk this heavy responsibility.

To be clear, the EPA still has regulatory powers over our state’s power plants. The court’s conservative supermajority ruled that the market cannot be allowed to come up with its own solutions when it comes to how utilities should adapt to climate change, and instead told the EPA it should tell power plants which technology to use to meet their emission reduction targets. .

The court’s decision won’t slow the pace of decarbonizing the electricity sector, nationally or locally, but it will make our nation’s climate policy much more expensive and less effective. We can choose to be swept along by this failing regulatory process, or we can be proactive, innovative and forward-looking. Some might say, do it the “Utah way”.

The Utah Way often touts a market-oriented policy. Market forces have already done much to decarburizationand this will no doubt continue to shift power plants away from coal towards relatively cleaner and increasingly cheaper energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and natural gas, as well as various energy storage technologies. ‘energy.

It is unfortunate that the court added this brake to the clean energy market.

Currently, our state’s only climate goal, set in 2008, is to generate 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, a goal we will likely meet. Compared to the objectives of other statesit is hardly ambitious.

The Utah Office of Energy Development Last plan sets out bold goals, including a commitment “to pragmatic, market-driven climate solutions that enable innovative power generation,” including an “emphasis on supporting Utah-based research and development , ensuring that we remain good stewards of our environment for future generations of Utahns.” It is an ambitious framework that must now become policy.

PacifiCorp, the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power, which provides electricity to the vast majority of Utah residents, is shifting away from coal-fired generation in favor of renewable sources. From the company 2021 Integrated Resource Plan projects a 74% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, compared to a 59% reduction in its 2019 plan.

But legislators can, and should, set a stricter target to drive innovation in the electricity sector. If we aim to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 (an achievable goal described in the 2020 Kem Gardner Policy Institute “Roadmap of Utah”), we could harness market forces to spur innovation and create thousands of new jobs, while improving our air quality and reducing climate emissions this decade.

There are many policy solutions before us that Democrats and Republicans should champion, such as:

  • Create a formal target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.
  • Calling for all major new developments such as the inner port and mountain peak to be at or as close to zero emissions as possible, including standards to bring zero and low emission trucks and heavy vehicles into the ‘Utah.
  • Adopt the new energy code 2021 improving energy efficiency standards for new homes and buildings and ensuring homes are capable of charging electric vehicles.
  • Pass legislation to create a “clean energy fund” to give Utah families and businesses a new tool to invest in clean energy upgrades for their homes and commercial buildings, like electric heat pumps zero-emissions, rooftop solar systems and electric vehicle charging equipment.

In the wake of the EPA Supreme Court ruling, there has never been more pressure on Utah leaders to be ambitious on air quality and climate than now. And yet, we live in an exciting era of new technologies and possibilities. We have the goals and roadmaps ahead of us to build a resilient, cleaner, electrified economy with modern infrastructure so all Utahans can live and work. Now we just need political courage to make it a reality. We need real superheroes.

I am ready and eager to work with my fellow parliamentarians to move us forward.

Representative Andrew Stoddard represents the wards of Midvale, Sandy and Murray. He is a personal injury lawyer.