In what has become a critical year for Utah’s dynamic air-energy nexus, Gov. Gary R. Herbert will lead a pivotal discussion on key environmental and economic issues facing the state in the first Utah Air & Energy Symposium, Oct. 27, 2015, presented by the Governor’s Office of Energy Development (OED), Zions Bank, Tesoro and Rocky Mountain Power.
The day-long event, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center, is centered on Gov. Herbert’s “state-based solutions” strategy, and brings together the diverse perspectives of more than two dozen industry leaders and government officials in an effort to define and address the unique challenges and opportunities Utah has in shaping its future.
“Energy and air quality are two of the greatest challenges and opportunities we face in Utah,” Gov. Herbert said. “This inaugural symposium will allow us to have an open dialogue on these important issues as we continue to explore collaborative, state-based solutions.”
The recent announcement of two new federal regulations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ushered in nationwide uncertainty over how greatly the rules will affect each state’s ability to grow. The Clean Power Plan’s final rule governing carbon emissions from existing power plants was made public on Aug. 3 of this year, and calls on Utah to reduce emissions roughly 34 percent by 2030; and on Oct. 1 new ground-level ozone standards were released, moving the target from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. These wide-reaching rules come amid Utah’s ongoing economic expansion and associated population growth, which has focused leaders’ attention on realizing air quality gains in the two areas that contribute most significantly to the problem, namely transportation and buildings.
Against this backdrop, industry stakeholders and government officials will aim to tackle both national and local topics across four panels, including:
• Understanding the Clean Power Plan’s Impact in Utah • Preparing Utah for New Federal Ozone Standards • Reducing Transportation Emissions Through Diversification • Recognizing Buildings’ Increasing Importance to Local Air Quality
“We’re dedicated to mutually advancing economic vibrancy and environmental responsibility in a way that provides integral opportunities for success on both fronts,” said Laura Nelson, executive director of OED. “Given the abundance of political will and the many innovative partnerships that have come together around the air quality issue, we believe Utah is well positioned to deliver results.”
In addition to the Governor, the symposium will also include remarks from the following:
• Scott Anderson, Zions Bank • Cindy Crane, Rocky Mountain Power • Robert Grow, Envision Utah • Alan Matheson, Utah Department of Environmental Quality • Karma Thomson, Tesoro • Ted Wilson, Utah Clean Air Partnership
Since its inception in 2011, OED has been dedicated to advancing all forms of responsible energy development in the state. The sector is a foundational driver of Utah’s success, contributing roughly $21 billion (or 14.8 percent) to the state’s total economy and accounting for 39,719 jobs, while at the same time ensuring the low energy rates that buoy the state’s many other sectors.