Last year I met a group of students from Logan. They had prepared a resolution on our changing climate to be heard in the Utah State legislature. Through a series of events their resolution ended up in my hands. With a late in the session roll out we felt fortunate to have a hearing on the last day committees could hear bills. The resolution received a 5-5 vote. While we were disappointed to not move on to the full House for a vote, there was a tremendous amount of energy for carrying the discussion forward. To that end these students became an important part of a team working to normalize the discussion of our changing climate with a special emphasis on solutions that support environmental stewardship and the economic vitality of our state.
Those discussions became the genesis for a bill I am running this session, HCR 7, Concurrent Resolution on Environmental and Economic Stewardship.
We had an initial hearing on this bill this week, but had to end committee right at public comment because our House floor time was starting. Two days later we were back on the agenda and after a brief intro by me, we went straight to public comment. Six students testified in front of the committee, and were backed by a large group of their peers from Logan High School, West High School, McGillis School, and Utah State University. They were succinct, thoughtful, well prepared, and impressive. In short, they wowed the committee members and won the day. The bill passed out of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and the Environment Committee with a vote of 8-3. We now move to the House floor for a full vote.
Comments by the students can be found below. They are worth a listen.
- Ms. Piper Christian, Senior, Logan High School, spoke for the resolution.
- Mr. Wes Carter, Junior, Logan High School, spoke for the resolution.
- Mr. Logan Christian, graduate, Utah State University, spoke for the resolution.
- Ms. Meridian Wappett, Junior, Logan High School student, spoke for the resolution.
- Mr. Kai Torrens, Junior, Logan High School, spoke for the resolution.
- Ms. Mishka Banun, West High School, spoke for the resolution.
- Mr. Damian Mora, Garbett Homes, spoke for the resolution.
- Ms. Elizabeth Hansen, Senior, Logan High School, spoke for the resolution.
My bill presentation follows:
Three weeks ago, on Day 4 of the 2018 legislative session, many of us met in the auditorium of the State Office Building to listen to a Climate Solutions Panel, made up of scientists, local, state, and federal elected officials, industry, and business representatives. This event was organized by Utah students, high school and college, and hosted by Rep. Ward, Rep. Briscoe, and myself. Videos of the event are in three parts and can be seen on youtube:
The opening remarks came from our own Congresswoman Mia Love, an early member of the Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, who recorded a message that was shown at the beginning of the event. She stated that, “We all have a part in making sure we are good stewards of the land that we live in. Unfortunately, our toxic political climate sometimes makes it difficult to effectively address our physical climate.”
HCR 7 is an attempt to prove that wrong. It is a consensus resolution that has been examined and vetted by a variety of stakeholders, many of whom are represented here today. Folks representing:
- Industry, large and small
- Scientists from our Utah research institutions of higher education
- Government agencies, tasked by us to examine these issues
- Stakeholders in the community
This resolution is an attempt to:
- Build bridges instead of divides
- Conduct constructive dialogue in place of the dissent of extremism, and to
- Work for solutions instead of seeing problems as an immovable status quo
It repeatedly affirms that it is our opportunity and responsibility to work for solutions that enhance a future that is both economically viable, and also environmentally viable.
Let the language of the resolution do the talking, beginning on Line 54:
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah, the
Governor concurring therein, commits to working constructively, using our heritage of
technological ingenuity, innovation, and leadership to create and support economically viable and broadly supported private and public solutions, including in rural communities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED we should prioritize our understanding and use of sound science to address causes of a changing climate and support innovation and
environmental stewardship in order to realize positive solutions.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor encourage individuals, corporations, and state agencies to reduce emissions through incentives and support of the growth in technologies and services that will enlarge our economy in a way that is both energy efficient and cost effective.
Utah is a special place. We are fond of saying that we deal with our problems using the “Utah Way.”
In that spirit, we believe Utah can tackle the challenges of a changing climate through its own means. But we must first have open and honest discussions of the problem, which is what my resolution is meant to initiate. We can continue to grow our economy and be good stewards of our natural resources as we work together to seek solutions that create a bright future for our state.