As lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week, they found copies of The Utah Roadmap, a paper aimed at developing policies — or mileposts — to improve air quality and address changing climate.
Tom Holst with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute said there are some obstacles to overcome to get legislators to implement any part of the study during the current session.
“Utah is a red state,” Holst said. “Most of the states that have adopted emissions-reduction goals and targets are either on the West Coast or the East Coast.”
The report was ordered by the Legislature in its 2019 session. The University of Utah thinktank worked with a 37-member Technical Advisory Committee, including representatives from state and local governments, industry, academia and environmental advocates.
One of the plan's main objectives is to reduce pollutant emissions by 50% and carbon emissions by 80%. Sarah Wright with Utah Clean Energy, an adviser on the project, said curtailing emissions is critical to reducing the choking brown cloud that hits the Salt Lake Valley every winter.
“I think one of the most important recommendations in the study is to adopt the goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050,” Wright said, “but after we adopt that goal, then we can develop a plan as a state to move forward.”
Holst said another major goal is the creation of a laboratory in the state to study air-quality and climate-change solutions.
Other recommendations include adherence to quality growth standards, have governments and institutions follow best environmental practices, convert Utah to an electric vehicle state and provide economic assistance to affected communities.