Reflections on the Legislative Session: Clean Energy, Coal, and Diversity

Now that Governor Cox’s deadline to veto legislation has passed, the 2024 Legislative Session is officially over (with the caveat that special sessions are likely). As I shared during the Virtual Lunch and Learn last month, it was a frustrating and disappointing session for clean energy and climate solutions. After a few weeks away from the turbulent Legislative Session, here are a few reflections on the session and what it means for our state, our communities, and the work for Utah Clean Energy that lies ahead.

Multiple bills were rushed through to keep uneconomic coal plants running longer, slow progress on climate solutions, and impede renewable energy progress. I understand the fears of some of Utah’s policymakers in response to market forces and climate impacts that are driving the closure of uneconomic coal plants across the country, including in Utah. But the Legislature spent far too little time considering the unintended consequences of these bills, and almost no time looking at the myriad of health and economic benefits of moving to cleaner electricity resources.

We anticipate that there will be substantial near-term consequences from bills like HB 191 and SB 224 on Utah’s energy future. The deeply concerning update from Rocky Mountain Power on its electricity resource plans is a sign that this legislation will significantly limit the near-term build out of clean energy resources.

Looking ahead, Utah Clean Energy’s team remains steadfast in our work to help Utah lead in the new energy era through smart investments in pollution free energy for all Utahns. This work is more important than ever, and we look forward to working with our leaders (and with you!) to make it clear just how important it is for Utah to unleash our incredible clean energy potential.

We must build a society and an energy system that allows all our communities to thrive. For this reason, I want to note our ongoing concern with efforts by the Utah Legislature to limit and control diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at our public institutions through HB 261-Equal Opportunity Initiatives (Rep. Katy Hall/Sen. Keith Grover). As Utah Clean Energy’s vision statement says, our team is dedicated to creating “healthy, thriving communities for all, empowered and sustained by clean energy.” Climate solutions that are inclusive and deliver benefits for all our communities are not optional, they are a must. That is why our CEO Sarah Wright signed the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

I am still grappling with HB 261 and what it means for our communities and our work, but I know it is the wrong direction for our state. We are all better off when we take down barriers to inclusion and diversity in our organizations and create space to understand injustice. On behalf of all of us at Utah Clean Energy, we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We stand in solidarity with those who will be affected by HB261, with their communities and all who seek meaningful solutions to right historical injustices.

AUTHOR

Josh Craft

Josh Craft

Government and Corporate Relations Manager

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