Rep. Michael Noel called global warming "pure bunk" and made a pitch Wednesday for defining nuclear power as a renewable energy resource.

"I'm on that bandwagon," Noel told a committee of lawmakers about climate change. "I'm for the consumer."

Noel, R-Kanab, was speaking directly to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s energy adviser, Dianne Nielson, during a meeting of the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee. His concern is that consumers are paying increasingly more for energy needs.

Nielson had just given a presentation to the committee on Utah's strategic use of energy resources, which includes developing renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal. She also talked about tapping into unconventional fuels like oil shale, which Huntsman last week asked Congress to allow Utah to develop as an energy source.

Noel suggested that renewable resources may be less efficient and more costly to consumers. He and Nielson also touched on the science behind possibly defining nuclear power as a renewable source as the state seeks to reach a goal of producing 20 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2025.

Noel added how he thinks extreme left-wing interests are driving talks about climate-change issues and influencing Utah's future role in energy development.

Lawmakers also expressed an interest in spending around $300,000 on hiring Copenhagen Consensus Center to organize a panel of economists, policy makers and stakeholders to look at the cost to consumers of balancing and prioritizing needs to develop renewable energy sources, managing carbon emissions and protecting the environment.

Copenhagen Consensus Center energy consultant Wesley Smith will be back in front of the committee next month to talk more about project logistics and how to fund it.


E-mail: sspeckman@desnews.com