Salt Lake City, UT -- In my last blog posting, I pointed to budding leadership on global warming from unlikely places like Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Governor of Idaho. So what's left as a political base for the global warming deniers? Well, when the Sierra Club sued EPA over its refusal to regulate carbon dioxide pollution, the state of Utah filed an amicus brief against us when the case came before the US Supreme Court. Utah lost of course, but now it seems Big Carbon has lost the support of even the Beehive State. Governor John Huntsman has now abandoned his former allies in the oil and coal industry, and aligned himself with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger by signing on to the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative. Huntsman's comment as he prepared for a visit by the Governator: "It's in line with the priorities I have for the state. Climate change is a real issue and one that we all need to get smart about."
And just in case anyone missed the political significance of his action, as he signed the agreement, the Governor of the most Republican state in the nation commented, "Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership on this issue, where the federal government has failed, is instrumental.... ...We are leading the charge. We are not waiting for Washington any longer."
Huntsman appears to have been listening to his constituents. Just last week, voters in Wasco, Oregon, voted down a proposal to import electricity from a proposed coal burner in Utah -- in part because Utah residents asked them to. The local newspaper ran a letter to the editor from one of the Utah Moms for Clean Air. It also ran a guest editorial against the proposal by Dr. Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
When Utah residents get politically engaged in local elections in Dalles, Oregon, and persuade out-of-state voters to protect them from coal fired pollution, the world is changing very, very fast.