Utah workers at the center of land use battle

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Rural Utah was hit by another executive order that state leaders say will hurt Utahns in their pocketbook.

President Joe Biden says it’s time to act on climate change, making it a part of national security and policy decisions, all while creating new jobs.

President Biden says, “We’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can’t wait any longer, and we see it with our own eyes. We feel it, we know it in our bones, and it’s time to act.”

Those fuel jobs are top of mind for our new governor.

In a statement, Governor Spencer Cox said

Unity in our nation can only be reached when we work together to solve complex challenges. I’m disappointed in President Biden’s decision to indefinitely pause all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. His action was taken without coordination with the state to determine how his decision would impact rural Utah and those that live there.

While the President’s order does not suspend existing leases, a long-term pause and its accompanying hold on new energy development harms future production and investment statewide. Two-thirds of our lands are public lands managed by the federal government. As with last week’s moratorium on mining and energy development, today’s order curtails future investment in Utah, weakens rural Utah’s economy and keeps many Utahns from being able to provide for their families.

One presidential executive order calls for a review of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante borders once thought to bring new jobs to the coal and oil industries.

Utah’s 3rd Congressional District Representative John Curtis said “People are worried about how they’ll be able to provide for their families and perhaps more importantly, how their children can stay in the area and have jobs. I think we make a mistake when we overlook any of these areas that are part of the passions.”

According to the latest federal energy and employment report, Utah has 11,701 people working in the fuel industry, with nearly 48% of them working in mining or extraction.

“I think that, unfortunately, workers have been fed a false narrative, no surprise right? They’ve been fed the notion that, somehow, dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No, it’s not,”
says U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry

The new administration says workers won’t get left behind and will get new green jobs.

President Biden says he is not going after the fracking jobs but wants stronger standards surrounding methane leaks.

There is no timetable on when folks can expect the new green jobs, but that plan may be rolled out in the coming months.

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