Recently, some clean energy groups and even some legislators have framed your Taxpayers Association’s backing of certain 2021 legislation as opposition to clean energy. As a reminder, we strongly advocated for House Bill 209 in the 2021 Legislative session. HB 209 would have ensured electric and hybrid vehicles are paying their fair share for using the roads in comparison to traditional-fueled vehicles. In reality, your Taxpayers Association fully supports developing Utah’s clean energy capabilities and technologies, but wants to make sure we are doing so in a way that does not place an irresponsible cost or burden on Utah families and taxpayers.
We fully understand the importance of electric, hybrid, and alternate-fueled vehicles to improving Utah’s air quality. We also understand the vital role that clean energy and carbon reduction efforts can play in creating well-paying local jobs, supporting Utah businesses and industries, and literally powering a stronger economy. Most importantly, we understand the power of the free market.
That is why we need our Utah delegation in Washington—including Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Mike Lee, and Congressmen Curtis, Stewart, Owens and Moore —to work together in order to pass market-based, bipartisan energy solutions that will drive new infrastructure investments across the state and throughout the country in order to address climate issues and advance clean energy in a pro-growth, taxpayer-friendly way.
One such example of bipartisan policy that would help improve air quality by reducing emissions using a market-based approach is the Growing Climate Solutions Act. As I highlighted last year, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would empower Utah’s farming community to incorporate climate-friendly, carbon-reducing agriculture practices and techniques by opening up access to existing carbon credit markets. While this bill did not pass last year, it is set to be re-introduced in Congress soon. Our Utah delegation should join the bipartisan group of legislators backing this effort.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and run a certification program to help farmers adopt climate-friendly techniques, such as carbon sequestration. While critically important to reducing pollution and improving air quality, these techniques can also help enhance soil quality, providing additional benefits for farmers. This program would also help connect farmers to credible, third-party organizations looking to purchase credits to offset their own carbon footprint.
The voluntary approach taken by the Growing Climate Solutions Act enables us to continue lowering emissions while providing extra financial stability for farmers, ranchers, foresters, and other agricultural producers whose lives and livelihoods have been severely impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, it helps advance important climate and clean energy goals in a way that will not impact Utah taxpayers.
These are the kinds of thoughtful, free market solutions that Congress needs to be advancing in order to ensure clean energy efforts are helping to power economic growth, create 21st century jobs, and ease the burden on taxpayers, instead of massive tax increases. While it is critically important for Congress to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act, they should not stop there. Lawmakers need to make a concerted effort to only pass bipartisan policies that invest in American and Utah infrastructure and clean energy only using the same market-based approach.
Your Taxpayers Association will continue to support and advocate for solutions that help Utah achieve cleaner air, water, and lands in a way that drives innovation, supports local residents and businesses, and advances economic growth in all sectors of our economy—all without relying on taxpayer-funded mechanisms and subsidies or tax hikes.
Ultimately, there is no reason we cannot advance clean energy while also ensuring vital taxpayer protections.