When Utah Governor Gary Herbert convened his annual two-day Energy Summit inside Salt Lake City's Salt Palace this month, some 200 demonstrators gathered outside on the plaza in front of the building and staged a Clean Energy Rally to protest the governor's energy policies.
"The Energy Summit is basically the governor's annual love fest with the fossil fuels industry," said Salt Lake City-based Sierra Club organizer Tim Wagner, below at the rally with his wife and fellow Sierra Club activist Shawna Hershfield.
Lest this sound like hyperbole, consider this editorial from the Salt Lake Tribune, entitled Energy summit: Policies make Utahns the losers:
"Gov. Gary Herbert's energy summit this week was not about promoting job growth or economic development. Not really. The meeting mostly served to bring Herbert and his single-minded energy advisers and like-minded legislators together with fossil-fuel developers. ... The discussion was not about how to improve life for Utahns, but about boosting the bottom lines of industries that inevitably will leave Utah economically vulnerable, dirtier and less healthy. ... In short, the summit resembled a meeting of an exclusive club that might as well have had a 'No renewables allowed' sign tacked on the Salt Palace door."
"We went after the governor from numerous angles at the rally," Wagner says, "including what his energy policies mean for Utah's spectacular public lands, our health, and the state's lackluster performance when it comes to capitalizing on the clean-energy economy. Utah is dead last among the western states."
Carrying signs reading "Don't frack with Utah!" and "Your Children Are Breathing Your Mistakes," demonstrators chanted, "Dirty Gary, make our day/Get real on climate right away/Dirty Gary, make our day/Wind and solar are here to stay."
The Clean Energy Rally was organized by the Sierra Club, HEAL Utah, and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, with active participation from a wide range of groups including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Utah Moms for Clean Air, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Peaceful Uprising, the Utah Clean Air Alliance, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.