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Climate Change Bills: The Discussion's Not Over Yet

Judy Fahys/KUER News
Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, didn't get a vote on his climate chnange resolution but he did get an opportunity to share some important facts about it.

It sounded sometimes like Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, was teaching a Climate Change 101 workshop on Tuesday. He asked members of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee to focus on a few trends.

“The first point is that our planet has gotten warmer over recent decades,” he said. “The second is that Utah has gotten warmer over recent decades.”

House lawmakers listened politely to a pair of resolutions on climate change. They took no action in the end, but the conversation on the issue still isn’t done.

For his bill, Ward stuck to facts. He talked about everything from temperature trends in Tooele and the broad agreement among scientists that the rapid climate change the planet’s going through now is a serious problem. His resolution does little more than ask Utah’s political leaders to keep that in mind when considering energy policies.

Then committee members raised familiar opposing arguments, like how climate’s always swayed between warm and cold.

“I can’t go there with — that Man is the substantial reason for all of this,” said Rep. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green.

Lawmakers took the resolution off the table without voting. That might kill it. But Ward hasn’t given up.

“I will say this,” he said after Tuesday’s hearing. “The day will come, I firmly believe, when a resolution with my wording makes it out of this committee. I don’t know if that’s this year.”

Lawmakers heard about second climate change bill, this one by another Davis County Republican, Rep. Becky Edwards. But they ran out of time to hear from dozens of supporters, so that resolution is expected to be at the top of the committee’s to-do list on Thursday.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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