clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rep. Curtis defeated me in November, but we can unite on climate change

I congratulate Rep. Curtis on his victory — and invite him to be a catalyst in fighting climate change.

Democrat Devin Thorpe, a candidate for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, participates in a debate at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City, Oct. 15, 2020.
Leah Hogsten

As Rep. John Curtis’s opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race, I congratulate him on his victory.

More importantly, however, I congratulate him for speaking out about climate change. In this conservative district, his acknowledgement that climate change is real, is human-caused and requires action to address allowed us to move directly to the topic of what to do.

One takeaway from the election is that virtually all his constituents agree action is required. Either they voted for him or for me, agreeing that something must be done.

In the new Congress, I encourage Mr. Curtis to be an early co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which puts a price on carbon and rebates the revenue to Americans on an equal basis. The bill was sponsored in the current Congress by Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch and co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Francis Rooney. Mr. Curtis’s leadership could be the critical difference.

This catalytic act leverages the market that he and I both have so much faith in to solve climate problems.

By creating a broad-based incentive to reduce our carbon footprint, everyone will have a reason to look for the easiest, lowest-cost, highest-return solutions in their own businesses and homes. This is the least intrusive government solution to climate change. Unlike other ideas he and I agree on, including creating income tax credits for energy storage solutions, this does not require the government to pick winners or losers.

Different from other interventions that can take years to have impact, this act will have impact even before it passes. The Utah congressman’s endorsement will accelerate its passage and simultaneously encourage companies and individuals to begin immediately looking for their own high return-on-investment opportunities to reduce their carbon footprints.

Because the opportunities for each industry and individual are different, the act will have impact across all areas of the economy at once. The incentives are the same for Silicon Slopes in Utah County, melon farmers in Emery County and for ranchers in San Juan County. The actions they take, however, will be quite different. Each will look for the cheap and easy ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

In addition, the act will give builders additional reasons to look for ways to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the construction, operation and/or use of buildings and homes. This universal incentive will help them find the most cost-efficient means for improving insulation, reducing heating and cooling energy use, etc.

In addition, the act will spur innovation. Already, companies like Intermountain Electronics in Carbon County are playing a leading role in the transition to a cleaner economy. Utah’s entrepreneurial and stewardship-minded culture will thrive with additional incentives to innovate around clean technology.

These benefits are not theoretical. Other countries have used a variety of methods for putting a price on carbon. The results are in. This shift is helping to grow economies and create good jobs.

While it remains true that I would love to see America be far more aggressive in its response to climate change, Mr. Curtis’ victory signals that Utahns prefer a less-intrusive, market-based approach. This act is what his constituents implicitly voted for.

Mr. Curtis has been called the most outspoken Republican in the country on climate change. He could be the catalyst that pushes this act across the finish line. This could be his legacy.

Devin Thorpe, a resident of Salt Lake City, recently ran for Congress in Utah’s 3rd District against Mr. Curtis.