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Opinion: Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on this issue

This can’t be just a Republican or just a Democrat concern. We need national collaboration and problem solving

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The Bear River ends before reaching the Great Salt Lake on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.

The Bear River, which typically feeds the Great Salt Lake, ends before reaching the Great Salt Lake as the lake experiences record low water levels on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Utah is charting the course for sound energy leadership in the United States. As an energy-rich state with reserves of natural gas and coal — along with renewable sources like solar, wind and geothermal — Utah produces more energy than it consumes.

Through this abundance, Utah is helping address the energy needs of the United States. Just as Utah continues to demonstrate, America must take an all-of-the-above approach to energy production and prioritize our domestic energy resources. As both the demand and cost of energy continue to grow, it is imperative that the reliability of our country’s energy supply be a top national priority, not just a Republican or Democratic one.

Congressman John Curtis recognizes how effectively addressing climate change is an opportunity for Utah, and he is a leading conservative voice at home and abroad in advocating for commonsense solutions to reduce global emissions while lowering energy costs for Utah families and reducing America’s reliance on nations like China and Russia. His establishment of the U.S. House Conservative Climate Caucus boasts more than 70 Republican members of Congress who are committed to supporting innovative technologies that foster affordable energy and reduce emissions. Congressman Curtis was also appointed by the House Republican Leader to the leadership task force on Energy, Climate and Conservation. 

Last week, Curtis joined the first-ever Republican delegation at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).  And the Utah congressman isn’t alone — according to a poll by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, 74% of voters favor increased support for clean energy development as well as meaningful, all-the-above climate solutions.

This week, Curtis hosted the first-ever Utah Conservative Climate Summit at the University of Utah, which features a diverse lineup of speakers highlighting a right-of-center approach to energy innovation and Utah’s contributions to energy security. I also toured the Rio Tinto copper mine — a mineral that is critical to clean energy technologies and infrastructure.

State leaders also recognize the importance of U.S. innovation and clean energy development. In recognition of the sixth annual National Clean Energy Week, Gov. Spencer Cox issued a proclamation celebrating Clean Energy Week in the state of Utah. The proclamation recognizes that “Utah is committed to advancing affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy through an ‘any-of-the-above’ market-based approach to developing Utah’s high-quality renewable solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass and energy storage resources.”  

Additionally, “Utah’s fossil-based energy sources generate affordable and reliable energy for Utah’s overall nation-leading economy and provide a backbone for integrating new energy sources resulting in a more diverse and clean energy system.” 

As one example, the U.S. Department of Energy just recently designated Utah’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy as a site for research and development in enhanced or manmade geothermal systems and reservoirs. An Enhanced Geothermal System will create opportunities to increase energy production across the country by removing the locational barriers of conventional reservoirs.  

Utahns support all-the-above policies that reduce emissions, incentivize clean energy development, removing regulatory obstacles to accelerate deployment of clean energy and infrastructure, and hold foreign countries, including China, accountable. That’s why in 2020 a first-of-its-kind, nonpartisan Climate and Clean Air Compact was signed to direct broad support and productive conversations and action on climate solutions. And while the legislature continues to work through the challenges of coming together on effective legislation, this approach shows a willingness on both sides to engage in meaningful conversation about an issue on which we can all find common ground.

Making sure America’s energy and climate policies support our workers, our economy and our environment is our best hope for reducing global emissions. Maintaining and expanding access to diverse energy sources must be a strategic and national security priority.  

We should continue advancing innovation, clean energy technologies, infrastructure that delivers energy that is affordable, reliable, resilient and will help reduce global emissions. Utah is showing the rest of the country — and the world — how it can be done.  

Heather Reams is the president of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.