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  • Writer's pictureTom Moyer

Climate Utah 3/6 legislative session wrapup

The 2022 legislative session was a mixed bag, which is frankly a big improvement from last year! A lot of climate bills got heard in committee as opposed to being left hanging in Rules. A few good ones passed, and one bad one was defeated. You can see everything in the 2022 legislative tracker.

Thank-yous are always in order whenever your legislator does anything good, and continued respectful communication can help move them if they haven't yet. If you are a constituent of Reps Handy, Ward, Harrison, Briscoe, Stenquist, or Stratton, or Senators Kitchen or Cullimore, it would be great to send them a note thanking them for their efforts on clean air and climate. You can look up your legislative district and contact information for your legislators here.

HB312 - State Financial Contracts Amendments- oppose

We (and the banking industry) helped kill this bill, which would have prohibited Utah public entities from entering into financial contracts with any financial company that refused to finance fossil fuel companies. It would have sent an unwelcome message to high-tech and clean energy businesses that might want to locate in Utah, along with having a negative effect on Utah's Olympic bid. The only people who testified in favor of it were the Utah Mining Association - and the committee voted to hold the bill.

You can listen to the committee hearing here if you missed it.

HJR003 - Joint Resolution Supporting Federal Carbon Fee and Dividend Program

We were disappointed to have this resolution held in committee, but wow, have we come a long way! Legislators were much more willing to take a look at this policy than they have been in the past, and there was essentially no opposition to the statement that CO2 emissions cause climate change. The resolution was opposed by the state’s electric utilities and the Utah Mining Association (who don't want their products taxed). The Committee voted 8-4 to hold the bill. Subsequent off-line discussion got close to an agreement on an acceptable language, but didn't quite get there.

You can listen to the committee hearing here if you missed it.

HCR001 - Concurrent Resolution to Work Together to Address the Climate, Public Lands, and Carbon Sequestration

This resolution passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate. It calls on the Biden administration to prioritize natural carbon sinks and carbon soil sequestration, and acknowledges the concern that "rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gases (GHGs) resulting from the continued use of fossil fuels are causing climate changes that threaten human health and well-being through more frequent extreme weather events, damage to critical ecosystems, threats to food supplies, and other harms."

That is not something that ever could have passed before. When we first worked on the environmental stewardship resolution, we had to avoid all language like that because it was such a non-starter. We are making progress, and it's worth taking a moment to celebrate it.

SB188 - Energy Efficiency Amendments

This is what remained of Senator Cullimore's Prosperity 2030 proposal after industry players got through tearing it apart. And it's still quite good! It authorizes an energy R&D center at Point of the Mountain focused on energy efficiency and air quality (which was milepost 3 of the Utah Roadmap). It creates the Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technology Fund to give grants towards new electric vehicles and charging equipment. And it creates a tax credit for utility scale electricity energy storage systems. These are significant wins!

HB405 - Switcher Amendments

This happened late in the game and it was ultimately pulled, but the back story is worth telling. Representative Schultz introduced this bill, which would have required freight switchers at Utah railyards to be powered by either hydrogen fuel cells or battery electric power by 2028. The Utah legislature was getting frustrated by a lack of cooperation on air quality from Union Pacific, and they used the threat of this bill to force some "voluntary" action to clean up emissions by UP. Here is a good article about the negotiations.

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3/15 6:00 pm: CCL LDS Action team meeting. Zoom link. 3/15 7:00 pm: CCL Presentation for new members. Zoom link. 3/23 - 3/24: Intermountain Sustainability Summit, Ogden. Registration. 3/28 - 3/29: CCL

3/11 10:00 am: CCL monthly meeting. In-person at the Murray library and online. Join CCL to receive meeting invites. 3/15 7:00 pm: CCL Presentation for new members. Zoom link. 3/23 - 3/24: Intermounta

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