On Jan. 10, 2013, nearly 200 people attended the Clean Air Now! Rally outside of the Salt Palace, which hosted the Governor’s Energy Development Summit.
Several speakers addressed the problems of clean air and health, energy and economic development and land use in Utah.
“The air quality on the Wasatch Front is a public health crisis,” said Dr. Claron Alldredge of Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment. “This is not a partisan issue; it is a public health issue.”
William Anderson, a member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, talked about the numerous health issues stemming from a coal plant and the pollution it creates on the band’s reservation. When the band brought the health issues up to those in charge of the coal plant, they were told that the diseases were genetic.
“Economic development is important, but no economic gain is worth the negative health consequences that our pollution exacts from the people,” said Alldredge.
The governor’s energy plan was criticized as too focused on nonrenewable fossil fuels and expensive, dangerous nuclear power
“Green jobs are not any more expensive,” said Alan Naumann, solar energy developer. “We should do those first.”
Fossil fuels may seem cheap, but that is only because the health benefits and government subsidies for the energy industry are not taken into account.
“Coal energy costs need to reflect the true costs,” said Christi Weddig of Citizen’s for Dixie’s Future, including community health and destruction of the land. “Visitors who visit our open spaces and parks fuel our economy.”
Jay Banta from Back Country Hunters and Anglers, Professional Skier Caroline Gleich and Professional Snowboarder Forrest Shearer talked about the negative impacts that the governor’s energy plan would have on their professions and on the tourism industry.
“We treasure doing these things (hunting and fishing) on public lands,” said Banta, “but our opportunities to do so depend on having clean air, clean water and large blocks of pristine habitat where wildlife has a chance to have a good life.”
Tar sands projects are only destructive and will severely cripple the opportunity to hunt and fish in Utah
Gleich said that Governor Herbert’s energy plan contributed to warmer winters and less snow. Less snow leads to fewer winter jobs, fewer outdoor photo shoots and fewer movies.
“Governor Herbert’s energy summit is full of business as usual,” said Joan Gregory of Peaceful Uprising. Utah could be a model for alternative energy. “Our land, water and air are under assault by the fossil fuel industry.”
Those at the rally proposed increasing the investment in solar, wind, geothermal and biomass sources of energy.
“Utahns want clean energy,” said HEAL Utah’s Matt Pacenza. Participation in Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky program is evidence that people are willing to pay a little more for cleaner energy.
Gregory said that the pollution problem shouldn’t be left to future generations to solve. Instead, we need to take care of the problems that we have created.
“It’s time to invest in clean energy now,’ said Shearer.