Here’s what the 3 Dems running for House District 24 had to say about clean energy and water

Incumbent Joel Briscoe will face off against Grant Miller and Ramón Barthelemy in the June 25 Democratic primary.

Three candidates are running to become House District 24′s Democratic nominee in the June 25 primary.

District 24 includes a swath of Salt Lake City south of 400 South, including the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods, as well as portions of South Salt Lake north of Interstate 80. Democratic incumbent Joel Briscoe has represented the district since 2010 and is running against Grant Miller and Ramón Barthelemy.

The Salt Lake Tribune sent out six questions to 50 candidates across 23 races scheduled for June 25. The Tribune gave these candidates a deadline and word limit, and informed the candidates that their answers may be edited for clarity and length. Here’s how Briscoe, Miller and Barthelemy responded to the questionnaire.

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?

Briscoe: Economic development and sustainable, renewable energy are not in opposition to each other; they can complement and encourage each other. Pitting them against each other is a false dichotomy. Many more Utahns work in the solar industry than work directly in Utah’s coal mines, a fact that is rarely noted in the media. The Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden is creating billions of dollars of investment in clean energy technology across the U.S., much of it in red states, but comparatively little in Utah. We need to put out the welcome mat for renewable energy, not coal.

Miller: Yes. Utah should aggressively seek sustainable and renewable sources of energy. The state Legislature should reaffirm Utah’s commitment to achieve net-100% renewable electricity by 2030. This not only protects Utahns from environmental harms, it also spurs growth in renewable energy businesses and jobs.

Barthelemy: Of course we should be doing more! Utah has started and has the potential to continue to be a significant leader on innovative energy sources, including the use of nuclear, solar and wind, geothermal, and other forms of alternative energy. The reality is that any Democrat running for the Utah Legislature would agree with those goals. However, the difference lies in the approach of a legislator. Our representation should be making a more persuasive case to legislative Republicans about the long-term business case for sustainable energy solutions. It is easy to talk a good game on renewable energy, but we need to accept that incremental gains are going to be the only path to building a sustainable future given current political realities. As the only scientist in the race, I believe I will bring a professional perspective that will make me immediately effective on these issues.

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

Briscoe: Yes.

Miller: Yes.

Barthelemy: Yes.

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?

Briscoe: Some subsidies, like replacement of turf with water-efficient landscapes, should be enlarged. I believe the best encouragement to reduce profligate water use would be to charge water users for the full cost of their water. Too many government entities in Utah encourage water use by supporting water development with property taxes, so the end user doesn’t see the full cost on their water bills. The full cost of water should apply to all water users, homeowners, agriculture, business, and government users of water. We also need to speed up our water conservation goals and targets and make them more aggressive.

Miller: Yes, Utah should do more to subsidize homeowners who aim to conserve water. This should include water metering and incentivizing water-resistant landscaping. The state should use both incentives and restrictions to encourage water use efficiency with agricultural crops. Utah needs to pursue water reclamation techniques (similar to the approach of Las Vegas). The Great Salt Lake should have a minimum volume level standard.

Barthelemy: We absolutely need to do more to conserve water, especially as Utah continues to be one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. With much of the growth coming in areas with particularly dire water needs, it is important that we have a mix of incentives and restrictions which help tackle water scarcity.

However, no matter what we do with residential water use, we will not move the needle without taking real action on agriculture, which uses the majority of Utah’s water. We should significantly bolster funding to the state’s agricultural water optimization program and build relationships with rural legislators to help persuade other areas of the state of the importance of water conservation in our agricultural operations.

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

Briscoe: No.

Miller: No.

Barthelemy: No.

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?

Briscoe: Fewer.

Miller: Fewer.

Barthelemy: Fewer.

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?

Briscoe: Against.

Miller: Against.

Barthelemy: Against.

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