While much has changed since our founding in 1922, the Utah Taxpayers Association has remained stoic in its commitment to protect the interests of taxpayers and promote efficient, economical government, along with fair and equitable taxation. While we are mainly focused on all things taxes, we believe that our organization has a role to play in ensuring the vitality and health of our economy, and by extension, the environment, now and for years to come.
That is why our organization fully supports developing Utah’s clean energy capabilities and technologies in a way that does not place an irresponsible cost or burden on Utah families and taxpayers.
We also understand the vital role that clean energy and carbon reduction efforts, like electric, hybrid, and alternate-fueled vehicles can play in improving Utah’s air quality. This can be done by creating well-paying local jobs, supporting Utah businesses and industries, and literally powering a stronger economy while paying their fair share for road usage. Most importantly, we understand the power of the free market.
That is why we need our Utah delegation in Washington—including Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Mike Lee, and Congressmen Curtis, Stewart, Owens and Moore —to work together in order to pass market-based, bipartisan energy solutions that will drive new infrastructure investments across the state and throughout the country in order to address climate issues and advance clean energy in a pro-growth, taxpayer-friendly way. Current efforts by the majority in Congress and the Biden administration are not only misguided, but they are also astronomically expensive and could pile trillions of dollars of debt onto future generations. We need policies that are free market driven and have a chance at making a difference.
One example of a bipartisan policy that would help improve air quality by reducing emissions, using a market-based approach, is the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA- S. 1251– Sen. Braun (R)). As I highlighted last year, the GCSA would incentivize and reward Utah’s farming community to incorporate climate-friendly, carbon-reducing agriculture practices and techniques by opening up access to existing carbon credit markets. We were incredibly glad to see Senator Romney listed as an original cosponsor, and the rest of the Utah delegation should join the bipartisan group of legislators backing this effort.
The GCSA would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and run a certification program to help farmers adopt climate-friendly techniques, such as carbon sequestration. While critically important to reducing pollution and improving air quality, these techniques can also help enhance soil quality, providing additional benefits for farmers. This program would also help connect farmers to credible, third-party organizations looking to purchase credits to offset their own carbon footprint, using a market based, taxpayer-friendly approach.
The voluntary approach taken by the GCSA enables us to continue lowering emissions while providing extra financial stability for farmers, ranchers, foresters, and other agricultural producers whose lives and livelihoods depend on solid government policy. Moreover, it helps advance important climate and clean energy goals in a way that will not impact Utah taxpayers. The Utah Taxpayers Association is proud to join the growing list of 60 leading agricultural and environmental organizations supporting the GCSA.
These are the kinds of thoughtful, free market solutions that Congress needs to be advancing in order to ensure clean energy efforts are helping to power economic growth, create 21st century jobs, and ease the burden on taxpayers, instead of massive tax increases. While it is critically important for Congress to pass the GCSA, they should not stop there. Lawmakers need to make a concerted effort to only pass bipartisan policies that invest in American and Utah infrastructure and clean energy only using the same market-based approach.
The Utah Taxpayers Association will continue to support and advocate for solutions that help Utah achieve cleaner air, water, and land in a way that drives innovation, supports local residents and businesses, and advances economic growth in all sectors of our economy—all without relying on taxpayer-funded mechanisms and subsidies or tax hikes.
Ultimately, there is no reason we cannot advance clean energy while also ensuring vital taxpayer protections.
Rusty Cannon is the President of the Utah Taxpayers Association