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How Biden's Push For Clean Energy Could Affect Utah Jobs

Efforts by the Biden administration to address climate change by temporarily banning new leasing on oil and gas drilling is concerning for many Utah communities that rely on these jobs. 

“I anticipate that that so-called temporary ban will become a long term ban, certainly, at least for the vast majority of Biden's first term. And so if we look at the economic impact from just the leasing ban, in Utah, it will cost your state about 1.1 billion in GDP, about 2670 jobs and about 205 million in state tax revenue over the first term of the Biden administration,” said Kathleen Sgamma, who is the president of the Western Energy Alliances.

She said natural gas and oil are used in almost every product on the market today and renewable energy won’t be able to replace it all.

“COVID response would not be possible. without oil and natural gas, because our petro chemicals are used in PPE, for example, in ventilator parts in, you know, running an ICU 24/7,” Sgamma said.

When it comes to eliminating a natural gas or oil job, Sgamma said this won’t result in a renewable job, but that the old job will just be imported to another country. 

Kate Bowman is the Utah Clean Energy project manager and agrees that it is hard to predict whether or not solar jobs can replace oil and gas jobs, but said clean energy jobs can bring opportunity. 

“There's incredible potential for Utah to capitalize on the growth of the clean energy industry, and bring jobs and economic development to the state, and to bring new resources and opportunities to our rural communities,” Bowman said. 

One challenge Bowman notes with job creation is longevity. For example, she said construction of a solar farm may create 300 jobs, but those jobs aren’t necessarily long term. Creating good paying jobs is important, she said, because it is one way the clean energy industry can encourage people to use their resources. 

“It’s important to ask how many jobs will be created," Bowman said. "How long they will be around, and the training required for these new industries."