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Report on global warming lists ways Utahns can help

Huntsman, panel offer 70 recommendations

Utah's Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change and Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. on Tuesday released the council's recommendations on ways that Utah should fight global warming.

The final report blames humans for climate warming and makes about 70 recommendations. Except for some minor wording changes, the report is the same as a draft approved by the panel in August. The recommendations include:

• Developing significant amounts of renewable energy. Incentives and tax credits could figure in the program, but the panel hasn't yet worked out those details.

• Encouraging the capture and disposal of carbon dioxide from sources such as coal-fired power plants.

• Improving efficiency at power plants.

• Developing and implementing an aggressive mass-transit strategy.

• Preserving open space and agricultural land and protecting forests.

"For Utah to continue to enjoy vibrant economic development, a healthy environment and quality of life, we must take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change," Huntsman said in a statement Tuesday.

Huntsman created the council last year to review the science of climate change as it relates to Utah and to look at potential policies that could be implemented. The council's 15 members include representatives from the coal and power industries, environmental groups and local mayors.

Dianne Nielson, the state energy adviser, said the group plans to add to the report a section on how to encourage development of renewable energy sources. The addition is expected to be finished by late October or early November.

The report is posted online at www.deq.utah.gov. Copies of the report were given to legislators on the Interim Public Utilities and Natural Resources committees, as well as legislative leaders who have expressed interest in the issues. The interim committees are scheduled to take up the matter next week and in November.

Because there are about 70 recommendations, not all efforts may be started soon, Nielson said. But some steps may be implemented quickly, such as improving building codes to increase requirements for energy efficiency.

Actions on energy efficiency where state agencies already have authority may require only rule-making changes, she said.

However, other points could require legislation. In those cases, Nielson and other officials will work with legislators, potential sponsors and stake-holders.

Meanwhile, she believes more study is needed concerning costs and benefits of the recommendations.

"We need to better understand what the work would be like or what the implementation would be like in Utah," Nielson said. "So we're going to be doing more work in those areas between now and mid-2008."


E-mail: bau@desnews.com