Gov. Herbert's energy plan lacks goals, too dependent on fossil fuels, residents say

10-year strategy also said to depend too much on fossil fuels

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 10 2010 10:41 p.m. MST

Gov. Herbert's final hearing for his plan was Wednesday.

Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert's 10-year strategic energy plan lacks specific goals and is too dependent on fossil fuels, several Utahns told the Governor's Energy Task Force on Wednesday.

About 100 people attended the final hearing on the Utah Energy Initiative, ending a public process that included feedback-gathering trips to Price, Cedar City and Vernal in recent months.

Joe Andrade, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah, praised the task force for its work on the plan but said recommendations in the draft document are too general and lack plans for implementation.

Andrade also was one of several speakers who noted a continued dependence on fossil fuels in the document. As an example, he read a line in the draft document that says "Utah should continue to use existing fossil fuel resources and augment them with new renewable energy resources" in order to meet future energy demands.

"I would love to see that turned around," Andrade said, suggesting a revision that reads, "Utah should use its abundance of renewable resources and augment them with fossil fuels."

Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, pointed out that the draft document only includes the phrase "public health" once, and then only when quoting from the Clean Air Act.

Environmental degradation and air pollution have more influence on the public health than any single issue — including smoking — Moench said.

"We're very concerned about that conspicuous omission," he said.

Moench said the group submitted to the task force an "extensive document" regarding respective energy sources' impacts on public health, though none of that was included in the draft document.

"If there's anything about this document more important than the impact on public health, we don't know what that is," he said.

Ted Wilson, chairman of the Governor's Energy Task Force, said information from Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment would be considered as work on the final document continues.

Wilson said public input from Wednesday's hearing at the state Capitol, as well as online comments and those from previous hearings, will be taken into account as the task force makes revisions and prepares to sit down with Gov. Herbert later this month.

"Feel empowered," Wilson told those in attendance Wednesday. "We're going to listen to you. ... Gov. Herbert really wants to hear from you."

The task force hopes to have a final document completed by mid-December.

e-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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