Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Salt Lake City Mayor: Cities Are Already Fighting Climate Change, Now Washington Needs To Step Up

Screenshot photo of Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski
U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski makes a point Tuesday to the U.S. House Committee on Environment and Climate Change. She joined other state and local leaders in urging more federal support for addressing local climate impacts in their communities.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski on Tuesday joined other state and local leaders in sharing tips on combating climate change with Congress.

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change heard from state and local leaders about the importance of reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Biskupski is chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Alliance for a Sustainable Future and co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. She talked about the future she wants for all children, including her sons.

“I come as the mayor of Salt Lake City, home to 200,000 residents, including my two sons, Archie and Jack,” she said. “... As both a mayor and a mother, I am working to protect the health and well-being of all people​, as the causes and effects of climate change are felt across the state of Utah.”

Subcommittee members sparred sometimes over what creates more energy security and jobs: renewables or fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, said he was “touched” by Biskupski’s story about her sons, but asked: “Are Archie and Jack better off in your communities because of oil and gas development from the aspect of health interactions and education and future job opportunities?”

He turned to Mayor Jerry F. Morales of Midland, Texas, for an answer. Morales said “yes” and went on to describe how technology is improving oil and gas development.

The hearing sometimes turned partisan, thanks to more than two hours of back and forth with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former congressman and Energy Committee member. He's making climate change a top platform position in his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 and highlighted economic benefits of emissions reductions.

Biskupski told the committee how Salt Lake City is positioning itself to have 100% clean energy by increasing efficiency. She said projects like updated transit systems, along with smart construction of the public safety building and two fire houses and the airport expansion, are helping to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases.

She also mentioned the partnership between Rocky Mountain Power and Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab and Summit County.

“This is an unprecedented collaborative effort between an investor-owned utility and the communities it serves,” she said.

Biskupski, who announced last month that she will not run for a second term, asked the subcommittee for more support — and funding — to help make transportation and infrastructure more climate friendly and economically stable across the country.


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.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.