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Thu Feb 20, 2020, 10:30 AM

Red-state Utah embraces plan to tackle climate crisis in surprising shift

Utah aims to reduce emissions over air quality concerns as other red states are also starting to tackle global heating

In a move to protect its ski slopes and growing economy, Utah – one of the reddest states in the nation – has just created a long-term plan to address the climate crisis. And in a surprising turnaround, some of the state’s conservative leaders are welcoming it.

“If we don’t think about Utah’s long-term future, who will?” Republican state house speaker Brad Wilson said at a recent focus group to discuss the proposals.

At the request of the Republican-dominated state legislature, a University of Utah economic thinktank produced the plan to reduce emissions affecting both the local air quality and the global climate. Project lead Thomas Holst, an energy analyst, never expected to be at the helm of an effort like this. A few years ago, the Utah legislature passed a resolution urging the EPA to “cease its carbon dioxide reduction policies, programs, and regulations until climate data and global warming science are substantiated”.

But now the perspectives of some state lawmakers – and of Holst, who spent most of his career in the oil and gas industry – have shifted.


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