Utah has fallen far behind neighboring states in renewable energy investment.
Utah’s governor, legislature, congressional delegation, and many local county governments are pushing for more conventional energy resource development on state and federal lands with less regulation of the industry. Current threats to air and water quality and the health of people, wildlife and living systems of southern Utah include the development of oil shale, tar sands, natural gas, oil, coal, and uranium resources.
Utah has the potential to become a leader in the new clean-energy economy by strongly incentivizing energy efficiency and renewable energy development to generate jobs and economic growth in the state’s rural and urban areas. Instead, elected officials prefer traditional, destructive energy development policy. As a result, Utah has fallen far behind neighboring states in renewable energy investment capital, missing the opportunity to spur economic development by becoming a leader and exporter of products and services related to clean energy industries.
By their own admission, Utah’s state regulating agencies under the Department of Environmental Quality lack capacity for much-needed oversight, monitoring, and enforcement of existing industrial activities and facilities. In 2011, the Utah legislature plans to make deeper funding cuts to this department. At the same time, the state has primacy over County governments for regulating industrial development, necessitating cooperation among local, state and federal entities, and citizen advocates to ensure compliance with existing rules.