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Sierra Club issues legislative scorecard

Published May 8, 2013 2:34 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rep. Marc Roberts and Sen. Margaret Dayton garnered the lowest scores for their respective chambers in the latest legislative scorecard by the Sierra Club's Utah chapter.

The Orem senator received a 38 percent score on key environmental issues, while the freshman lawmaker from Santaquin garnered a 25 percent score on bills covering everything from air quality and public health to zoning and public lands to energy and wildlife.

In the House, nine representatives scored 100 percent, as did two in the Senate. All of them are Democrats.

Dan Mayhew, chairman Utah Sierra Club, said that along with "the usual posturing and message bills," lawmakers did pass legislation this year that improves the environment. He pointed to HB168 as "a small step towards clean air and energy efficiency."

"It encourages schools to take practical measures reducing emissions and saving energy," he said, "We hope we can build on small steps like these in the future."

Mayhew also pointed to SB221, which permits cities and counties to create special service districts that can take 20 years to repay the expenses for building renewable energy projects or upgrading energy efficiency standards.

"Removing the hurdle of finding the capital costs upfront will change the scene for energy efficiency and renewable energy installation," said Mayhew, "We should see a blossoming of these projects in the next few years."

The group called some measures "largely symbolic," while others "could have real impacts." Mark Clemens, lobbyist for the Utah Chapter, contends lawmakers "set the stage for unnecessary conflicts between public lands managers and local officials."

"[HB164] pre-supposes incompetence or callousness on the part of professionals at the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management — which is unfair."

For the record, Dayton said in an email she was not surprised about the Sierra Club ratings, considering that its agenda is different than hers. She added that she'd received notes of appreciation from constituents who'd seen the Sierra Club ratings.

"Because private property rights are one of the pillars of Capitalism, (which I support) and multiple use of the land and its resources (which I also support) can be accomplished without being environmentally destructive, my approach to land issues strongly differs from this organization."

Meanwhile, Roberts had a similar take on his score: "I still stand by each of my votes, which were based on limited government and individual liberty."

— Judy Fahys