In the 20th of 22 scheduled debates, Wayne Owens and Genevieve Atwood sang many of the same environmental and energy policy tunes.

"It's a pleasure to pitch the same canary song. Tweet, tweet," said Atwood after hearing Wayne Owens agree that the Earth's plants and animals represent the equivalent of the canaries that coal miners use to use in the mines to warn of bad air."As we begin to kill off the critters, we should be warned ourselves," said Owens.

He and Atwood debated on six energy and environmental questions before about 80 people in the moot courtroom at the University of Utah Law School.

Light rail

Both called light rail a good idea for the valley. Atwood said she believes that new, more efficient mass transit technology is on the horizon and that land should be bought now to save that expense.

"It's very smart to buy up rights of way and wait for the technology to change," she said. Atwood also said light rail represents an opportunity to redesign the north south orientation of the valley.

"I'm not very impressed with the light rail plan as it's promulgated and planned. It's too small, won't attract sufficient riders and will improve air quality only 1 or 2 percent," Owens said.

Still, he's in favor of the idea of light rail. "I only wish it were more imaginative."

Clean Air Act of 1990

Atwood praised the the law, and Owens said it was the most significant piece legislation after the budget bill. Owens said that Kennecott's complaint that complying with the new law would cost $100 million and 900 jobs is perhaps overstated, and even if it isn't "health is foremost."

Atwood said air pollution can be divided equally between cars, industry and heating. "Look at the smog. Everyone has the responsibility, all of us are to blame. It's easy to point your finger at the big guys," Atwood said.

Bingham Creek

The ideal is to not create such problems to begin with, Atwood said.

"Engineers like to solve problems; geologists like to avoid them," Atwood, a professional geologist, said.

To avoid future surprises every quadrant in the state should be geologically mapped to find other such places, she said.

Owens said he has worked on legislation that would straighten out the way liability is determined when EPA Superfund sites are declared and would increase the amount of money available for the Superfund.

Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Alaska

Both candidates agreed that the reserve should not be opened for oil exploration or development. "There are certain places where there is greater value than oil," Owens said.

Atwood said that environmentalists should use the threat of oil development as a trump card to force the formation of a national energy policy. "We need a national energy policy," to develop new energy sources, such as fusion, Atwood said.

Northern Spotted Owl

The question of the protection of endangered species like the Spotted Owl sparked both candidates to agree that saving endangered species is in the America's self-interest.

Environmental overregulation of business

"By and large I don't think businesses are overregulated" with regard to the environment, Owens said. The United States invented environmentalism, Owens said, and as a consequence, higher prices are figured into the cost of its goods. Such factors should be taken into account when negotiating free trade agreements with other countries.

Atwood said businesses aren't so much overregulated as misregulated. "In general, carrots work better than sticks," she said. Too often Congress uses a stick. As a consequence companies use their genius to circumvent environmental regulations rather than harness it to end environmental problems, she said.