Rep. John Curtis on the conservative approach to climate change

Sep 7, 2023, 3:01 PM

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, speaks during a Utah Aerospace and Defense Association meeting at the Kem...

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, speaks during a Utah Aerospace and Defense Association meeting at the Kem C. Gardner Institute in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

OREM, Utah — Climate change is not a Democrat issue or a liberal issue. Not if you ask Rep.John Curtis, R-Utah.

He is hosting a conservative climate summit on Friday at Utah Valley University.

“This is an opportunity for us to get together and find common ground and demonstrate that conservatives really have a voice in leaving this earth better than we found it,” Curtis said.

One of the topics at the summit that might surprise people is the one that will be addressed by the keynote speaker, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. Gordon will talk about how fossil fuel is part of the solution, not the problem.

“It will surprise a lot of people that fossil fuels have actually been used to reduce massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions,” Curtis said. “We make a mistake when we demonize an industry and don’t include them in finding solutions.”

A win-win for action on climate change

“If we do this right, we’ll not only be energy independent, but energy dominant around the world,” said Curtis. “We’ll lower emissions. Fuel can be affordable, reliable and clean.”

He wants his fellow Republicans to grasp his basic premise.

“I hope conservatives will understand they don’t have to leave their conservative credentials at the door to be good on this.”

Curtis described his “Aha” moment.

“The same policies that are good for the environment are good for our economy, for national security, for energy independence,” he said. “We’ve all been told that we have to sacrifice all those things. That’s what Europe did. Look what happened in Europe. They sacrificed their national security, and now they’re putting out more greenhouse gasses than they did before.”

A voice at the table

“We need a voice at the table,” Curtis said of conservatives and climate change. “We have a path that we can put forward that doesn’t kill our economy, that doesn’t leave us dependent on an adversary for fuel.”

The representative absolutely believes that energy policy is a national security issue.

“Many of us who are my age will remember the 70s when we found out what happens when a foreign adversary holds us hostage for fuel,” he said. “It’s a bad place to be.”

For those too young to remember that time, there were lines of cars at every gas station waiting for gas. Drivers with license plates ending in even numbers could go on certain days and odd numbers on other days. It was a nightmare.

Today, we see reports of some renewable energy companies struggling to meet the bottom line, particularly with wind farms.

“This is why conservatives have perhaps made a mistake in not engaging in the climate debate,” Curtis said. “We like to ask hard questions. We want to know if this is going to ‘pencil’ before we subsidize it as a government.”

He did say that when solar began, it didn’t “pencil”, but innovation and scale have brought the price down. He explained that pencil, in this context, means ideally that the market should solve these challenges.

I think the market is driving us to clean fuels,” he said. “I also think it’s taking us to affordability and reliability.”

Innovation and emissions reduction

“This is an area for Utah to lead the country and for the country to lead the world,” Curtis explained. “My guess is when we get to the year 2050, we’ll look back and not realize today where all of our innovation will take us and what innovation we’ll be using.”

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Rep. John Curtis on the conservative approach to climate change