The 18-point election victory Tuesday by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, represents a win for the environment, according to the Sierra Club.

The national conservation group, which claims a membership of 650,000, gave Owens its first endorsement in the 1990 elections."Wayne Owens understands that 2nd District voters are very supportive of environmental issues such as clean air and wilderness, and approval of Wayne's stance on these issues helped to give him the biggest electoral margin he has ever enjoyed in Utah," said Jim Wechsler, chairman of the Political Committee of the club's Utah Chapter.

The 2nd District includes most of Salt Lake County.

Lawson LeGate, the southwest representative for the club, said one reason for Owens' win is that voters in the 2nd District did not buy the claim by his Republican opponent, Genevieve Atwood, that she is an environmentalist. At least she isn't in comparison to Owens, he said.

The two noted that Owens' election victory followed the introduction of his 5.1 million-acre wilderness bill in Congress.

"Wayne's decisive victory is in part a demonstration that 2nd District voters approve of his strong leadership on behalf of wilderness protection for Utah's unparalleled beauty," Wechsler said.

"Ms. Atwood spouted pro-environment rhetoric, but this was at odds with her poor record as a state legislator and as state geologist," LeGate said. "Ms. Atwood didn't oppose the Thousand Springs Power Plant, and she did support the Sagebrush Rebellion and coal mining on the Kaiparowits Plateau."