Republicans Brian Nielson and Troy Shelley vying to represent Juab and Sanpete residents in Utah Legislature

“Coal is clean energy,” Troy Shelley, a businessman, said. Neilson did not respond when asked by The Tribune to answers several questions ahead of the 2024 primary election.

Republicans Brian Nielson and Troy Shelley will battle to represent Utah House District 66 in this year’s primary election. Incumbent Rep. Steven Lund, also a Republican, is not running for reelection.

Nielson previously served as executive director for the Utah Department of Corrections and sheriff for Sanpete County. Shelley, a businessman, formerly chaired the Sanpete County Republican Party.

The Tribune sent each candidate six questions, gave them a deadline and word limit and informed candidates that their answers may be edited for clarity and length. Shelley responded with answers and Neilson did not. The following answers have been edited for length, grammar and clarity.

1. Utah’s largest electricity provider has canceled plans to replace its coal-fired power plants with nuclear power and has walked back comments about investing in clean energy.

Should Utah, while it actively supports housing and business development, also be looking for more sustainable and less fossil fuel and carbon-dependent energy sources?

Brian Nielson: No response

Troy Shelley: Coal is clean energy. If you were around in the 1970s, you would be able to realize the difference in what goes up the chimney. The power plants have used amazing technology to capture the particulate matter, and in many cases, re-use it as a commodity. Human ingenuity is amazing when faced with challenges, and because of affordable, reliable and available electricity, we have the available resources to invent. Because of those inventions, the world is a much, much cleaner place than it was even in the 70s. Currently, a hydrocarbon-powered world is the pathway to success. If we continue down the political path, we will fail as a country, but sentence third-world countries to the life they currently live with no hope for a better future.

2. Yes or no: Is climate change negatively impacting Utah?

Nielson: No response

Shelley: To answer your sincere question, it negatively impacts winter-related industries in the summer, and negatively impacts summer industries in the winter.

3. Water scarcity continues to be a challenge for the state. Recent legislation has attempted to conserve water and get more to the Great Salt Lake and Colorado River. Should Utah do more to subsidize homeowners to conserve water? Should laws require large users to pay more for water? What other steps should state government take to deal with water scarcity?

Nielson: No response

Shelley: We live in a desert. It was only a short time ago that the requirement to build a home is that you had to have “x” amount of grass, and the park strips all had to have grass. Maybe if the elected officials would make less decisions on behalf of individuals, then individuals could look at the situation and say, “hey, grass makes no sense to me; I will xeriscape instead.” I think water rates should represent the cost of delivering the water and some pricing to either dissuade or penalize high water consumption. I generally am opposed to such an approach as the water was actually never owned by the very entity that is taxing for its use. I am not sure how that happens, but we all need water. You assume this is a State Government issue. There are elected officials in every community in the state. Decisions need to be pushed back to the local elected officials for decisions. A one-size-fits-all approach still does not work.

4. Yes or no: Do you support building the Lake Powell Pipeline?

Nielson: No response

Shelley: There are a few entities involved in this transaction. The owners of the water, the cities that need the water, the land owners that the pipeline will need to cross and those who rely on the water for power generation. The state really is not one of those interested parties. The decision on this pipeline is limited to the parties involved.

5. Triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, Utah’s current law bans nearly all abortions — except in instances of sexual crimes, when there is a fatal fetal abnormality or when the mother’s life is at risk. For now, that law is currently on hold in the courts and an 18-week ban is active in Utah. More or fewer: Should Utah’s trigger law have more or fewer restrictions?

Nielson: No response

Shelley: Choice is made when a biological male and a biological female have sex. The result of that choice is at times a living child in the womb of the mother. I cannot support a law that restricts a consequence of a previous choice. If a mother has the heart to terminate the life of the powerless child, we as a society have completely collapsed. The constitution is null and society will fail.

6. For or against: Are you voting for or against the constitutional amendment that removes the requirement that income taxes be used for education and social services?

Nielson: No response

Shelley: As a general rule, I am opposed to anything that requires an amendment to the constitution, either on a state or federal level, as there are many unintended consequences that it creates.

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