Utah’s New Governor on Global Warming

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on May 18, 2009

The New York Times ponders today what will happen now that Utah’s Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, a global warming realist, will replace departing (to a China ambassadorship under President Obama) Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., an alarmist in the Schwarzeneggar/Crist image:

In 2007, in the tradition of his fellow Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, he signed on to the Western Climate Initiative, an effort by Western states to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

Assuming Mr. Huntsman is confirmed by the Senate, his successor will be lieutenant governor Gary Herbert, who is known in the state for holding very different views on climate. Mr. Herbert would serve through 2010.

“Basically, we are going from a governor that was a national leader in the world’s most important environmental issue to one that denies that global warming exists,” said Marc Heileson, a Sierra Club representative in the group’s Utah field office, in an e-mail message.

One of my sources in Salt Lake City emailed me and said he thought he heard Herbert say he would withdraw Utah from the WCI, something many state legislators would heartily approve. But the source misheard and wrote, “he said he has no plans to pull us out of the WCI…BUT he has many concerns with cap and trade.”

I wouldn’t be so sure that Herbert won’t eventually move in that direction. I met him when I visited last year (while Salt Lake was hit with its largest snowstorm of the season) and heard clearly that it was an issue he strongly disagreed with the governor about. But it’s too soon (and inappropriate) to ask for him to make any commitment today, during a transition press conference when full respect is due the previous administration.

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