Weber official who challenged climate change will join Utah natural resources agency after being cleared of misusing funds

(Tribune file photo) Kerry Gibson in 2009

The Utah Department of Natural Resources is moving forward with Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson’s controversial appointment as deputy director after a five-month investigation failed to produce sufficient evidence to prosecute him on allegations he misused public funds and resources.

Gibson’s appointment came under a cloud shortly after it was announced in December, when Ogden police opened the probe into the fifth-generation dairyman’s role in a flood-mitigation project on the Weber River near the Gibson farm.

DNR Executive Director Mike Styler had put Gibson’s appointment on hold pending the outcome of the investigation. Last month, Gibson’s lawyers announced the Davis County attorney’s office concluded its review without filing charges.

“My primary concern has always been to have the truth brought out. While I believed from the beginning that Kerry would be cleared of any and all wrongdoing, I also believed it was prudent to delay his appoint until he was cleared,” Styler said in a news release Monday. “... Kerry’s background as a farmer, state legislator and most recently county commissioner will make him a valuable asset to the state and DNR. He has always been a fierce advocate for natural resources, and we are pleased he remains committed to accepting this assignment following this personal ordeal.”

While a Republican member of the Utah House, Gibson sponsored legislation dismissive of the science supporting climate change. Critics argued Gibson’s unwillingness to acknowledge the threat of global warming made him a poor choice for a key position overseeing natural resources.

Gibson will join Darin Bird as one of two deputy directors of DNR, which manages parks, wildlife, minerals, state lands and water.