Members of Utah’s congressional delegation called for more energy development during a panel at the Governor’s Energy Development Summit. But the discussion wasn’t without some push back from local environmental advocacy groups.
Congressmen Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart joined Senator Mike Lee in calling for greater freedom to develop coal and natural gas energy sources across the state. Bishop, who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee, says the best plan moving forward is one that doesn’t involve the federal government.
“It’s not that important to have a national energy plan," Bishop says. "North Dakota didn’t need a national energy plan to be successful. They needed the ability to tap into their natural resources and making decisions at the local level.”
Meanwhile, outside the convention hall a group of about 150 environmental activists gathered in protest. Dr. Claron Alldredge of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment was one of the speakers at the event. He says the obvious health consequences of a dependence on fossil fuels outweigh the ease of obtaining them.
“We simply have to shift away from them. Our air flow is not good enough to eliminate the pollutants from fossil fuel use,” Alldredge says.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency in 2011 only 4.7% of Utah’s net energy generation came from renewable sources.