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Unveiling of Ten-Year Energy Plan

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert
Unveiling of Ten-Year Energy Plan

Thank you for coming today for the unveiling of my 10-year strategic energy plan. First, I would like to acknowledge the countless hours that went into the crafting of this plan by members of my energy task force and the numerous subcommittees that gave input. I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of my Energy Advisor, and the Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, Amanda Smith, and my Senior Environmental Advisor, Ted Wilson.

From the day I was inaugurated as Utah's 17th governor, I have attempted to outline and create an agenda that meaningfully recognizes the vital connection between successful economic development, quality educational opportunity, and energy and technology development.

We have chosen this location today at the University of Utah because it does, in fact, represent the convergence of economic development, education and energy. I appreciate those who are hosting us today - and all of you who have chosen to be here to focus on this very important issue and effort. We are here to unveil "Energy Initiatives and Imperatives: Utah's 10-Year Strategic Energy Plan." If I were to reduce the contents of the 42 pages of Utah's Energy Plan into one simple formula, it would be this:

Innovation + Initiative = Energy Independence

Let me be clear about the overarching objectives of Utah's 10-year Energy Plan that is being unveiled today: We must provide for continued access to our own low-cost and long-term sustainable energy for Utah businesses and consumers. We must be at the international forefront of developing and deploying cutting-edge energy technologies, with a specific focus on environmental protection and frugal resource management. We must increasingly utilize Utah's strategic access to energy to foster expanded economic opportunity and to create energy independence.

When I announced the launch of the strategic energy initiative a little over nine months ago, I asked my staff and this astute task force to focus on nine specific imperatives. These imperatives are:

  1. Ensure Utah's continued access to our own clean and low-cost energy resources.
  2. Develop and deploy new cutting-edge technologies that combine Utah's traditional fuels with future opportunities for renewables.
  3. Create new energy-related manufacturing opportunities and jobs in Utah.
  4. Address future generation, transmission, and other infrastructure needs, largely through regulatory reform.
  5. Promote energy efficiency and conservation.
  6. Expand and facilitate responsible development of Utah's energy resources, including traditional fuels, alternative fuels, and renewable fuels.
  7. Expand opportunities for Utah to both market and export fuels, electricity, and technologies to regional and global markets.
  8. Enhance and further integrate partnerships between industry, universities, state government and local communities - especially those in energy-rich rural communities - in order to address future energy challenges and opportunities.
  9. Collaborate with other Western states to present a strong and unified voice to federal regulatory agencies on energy and public land issues.

Now is the time for us to begin the tactical implementation of these strategic objectives. Allow me to briefly address some of the critical initiatives and opportunities for innovation that lie ahead. If we are to have expanded access to our abundant and precious natural resources - we must innovate safer and cleaner methods of resource extraction and utilization. Carbon capture and storage technologies have topped that list for several years, but it is now time for other technologies to be considered on a priority basis. If we are to develop and deploy cutting-edge research and development, our major universities must take the initiative to lead. We, as a state, will also do more to facilitate and coordinate the research functions among our major universities.

Our goal is to create a veritable "energy research triangle" that spawns Utah's innovation.

Our rural energy-based communities must also assume a greater role in the processes of innovating solutions. The Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center in Vernal is a great first step. We will advance similar projects in southeastern Utah, in Price, and in other energy-based communities along the I-15 corridor.

The energy infrastructure within our state has been neglected for far too long. Oil pipelines must be made safer. Transmission lines must be sited. New generation capacity must be addressed to keep pace with our growth. These are all imperatives on which I, and locally elected officials, must take initiative. No one wants a pipeline, power plant, or transmission line in their neighborhood or community. Yet all of us want gas and electricity at our fingertips. Initiative requires leadership - and I intend to provide both.

Energy efficiency, conservation, and greater utilization of renewable energy require individual responsibility and initiative. As a state, we are encouraging more geothermal energy, more wind and solar farms, and expanded mass transit opportunities. Please stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead as several major initiatives will be announced. The challenge of renewable energy is, of course, both one of economy and intermittency. The potential storage of renewable energy continues to be, perhaps, our greatest technological challenge - but innovation and initiative in this area is already well underway in Utah. If the opportunity to create new energy-related manufacturing jobs in Utah is to be realized, we must accelerate the "technology transfer process" so that the end users of technology are increasingly involved on the front-end of technology development.

And lastly - we must not only innovate, we must also lead out in defining how Utah's future baseload of electricity will be generated. Coal has been a tried and true performer - and we cannot overstate the importance of coal in providing both stable, low-cost electricity; nor the significance of coal-related jobs in many rural Utah communities. As I said in my State of the State Address in January, Utah must address the reality that the baseload of our electricity into the foreseeable future will, of necessity, either come from fossil fuel generation or from nuclear power.

We must act now to begin a long and meaningful public deliberation concerning nuclear power. It is a primary source of electrical generation to much of America, and to many countries in the world. The unfolding events in Japan this past week certainly make us take pause. We express our sincere sympathies and condolences to the people of Japan and our appreciation to all those including many people in Utah who are aiding the victims of that disaster. The lessons we learn from that horrific situation must not be lost as we discuss any possible future nuclear power generation here. The disasters in Japan, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island will not preempt the debate of nuclear power-but they certainly will influence it.

Let me emphasize that I firmly believe no other state can offer what Utah can. We are uniquely positioned in the Western Energy Corridor, which stretches from Canada on the north to New Mexico on the south. We are strategically positioned at the Crossroads of the West. Utah has a rich abundance of diverse natural resources, both in terms of traditional fuels, and renewable and alternative energies. We are abundantly blessed!

But our greatest advantages are the minds-and the mindsets-of the people of Utah. We must harness the innovation that comes from scientists and entrepreneurs...the industry that comes from a skilled, educated workforce...and a pioneer heritage that values the hard work and initiatives of the past while innovating the solutions of the future!

I have talked today about how innovation combined with initiative can result in energy independence for Utah. Let me conclude by discussing the important role Utah can play, and must play in America's pursuit of energy independence. We see the increasing instability in the Middle East, and watch with alarm as the price of oil exceeds $100 per barrel and rising. We helplessly witnessed the tragic Gulf oil spill as we attempted to grasp the impact on our environment, and on the lives of tens of thousands of workers and their families. The daily news concerning the threat of nuclear contamination resulting from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan deeply impacts us all - regardless of where we reside in our global community.

While we in Utah may not be able to do a great deal about international affairs or about the forces of nature-we can as individuals, as communities, and as a state do our part-and more! Utah innovation can and will be of global consequence, as our Utah initiatives and leadership will create a model for other states to follow.

Energy independence is everyone's business. The quality of life we enjoy simply cannot be put at risk because we lacked innovation, or because we failed to take initiative.

Our pioneer spirit of determination and problem-solving is deeply rooted. Our country is based upon the vital concepts of liberty and independence. We are taking important steps forward today-and also in the weeks and months ahead. As governor of the great state of Utah, I will do all in my power to advocate and promote the remarkable opportunities of innovation and initiative that lie ahead in our unrelenting pursuit of Utah energy independence.