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Utah students organize public hearing on climate change

By Ryan Morgan  |  Posted Feb 26th, 2017 @ 11:20am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of Utah residents crowded a Capitol meeting room Thursday to support an informal public hearing for a resolution recognizing a consensus on climate change.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, agreed to host the members of the public after his resolution to "expresses commitment to create and support solutions and studies to address the causes and effects of climate change" was blocked by the Senate Environmental Resources Committee.

SJR9 sought to overturn a 2010 resolution of the Utah Legislature urging the Environmental Protection Agency to halt carbon dioxide regulations at the concern of a recession economy and disputed scientific consensus on the issue of climate change.

Dabakis said several high school and college students urged him to hold the informal public hearing. He broadcast the hearing live on Facebook.

"The scientific substantiation of climate change has occurred," said Piper Christian, a junior at Logan High School. "Prudent, fact-based stewardship of our economy and environment is a critical responsibility."

Christian organized the event with her older brother, Logan, a student at Utah State University.

She touted efforts by municipalities in Utah to combat pollution and climate change, noting that Salt Lake City, Park City and Moab have committed to total reliance on renewable energy by 2032.

"Solar energy surpassed unsubsidized cost parity with fossil fuel for the first time in human history, making it the single most efficient form of energy production on planet Earth," said Kwinn Sutton, an environmental science student at BYU. "Climate change represents the single most perplexing challenge humankind has ever faced. … Never before has our very way of life been threatened by our very way of life."

Sutton urged the change to renewable energy and said personal greed and an archaic political dogma are the obstacles to achieving that goal.

After more than a dozen people spoke in favor of the resolution, and as Dabakis announced that his Facebook live stream had reached roughly 4,000 viewers, House Minority Whip Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, called for a sentimental public vote on SJR9.

"That is a unanimous resolution," House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, announced as he looked to the gathered crowd and the response to the Facebook live stream.

Email: rmorgan@deseretnews.com

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