Commentary: The Utah Roadmap is right for Utah’s outdoor industry

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People enjoy a blue bird day at Solitude Mountain Resort following a series of storms that have piled on the inches of snow in the high country on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.

Utah is not only where we live and where we’ve chosen to raise our families, but also where we run successful businesses. With 23 million acres of public lands, five mighty national parks and 10 world-class ski resorts all within an hour of Salt Lake City and the “Greatest Snow On Earth,” there is no question why we’re here to stay.

With this privilege also comes a responsibility to protect what makes Utah so special. Utah’s unhealthy air quality and changing climate hinder our ability to recruit and retain employees and grow our businesses in the state.

Climate change and its impacts, including reduced snowpack, more intense wildfires and diminished water resources, are already causing significant challenges for our businesses that are a vital part of Utah’s $12.3 billion outdoor recreation economy. Our industry depends on a stable and interconnected ecosystem of clean air, consistent seasons, and healthy freshwater.

To maintain this delicate balance, the scientific consensus is that we have until 2050 to address the worst impacts of climate change, by achieving net-zero emissions. And while this may sound like an insurmountable challenge, we have hope.

That’s because we know the solutions that are needed to address climate change. They’re proven and reliable. Clean, renewable energy is now the least expensive form of electricity generation across the West, and policies to increase its use will economically benefit our companies and the state. With Utah’s abundance of sunshine and a young skilled tech community, our state is perfectly aligned to innovate and lead a clean energy revolution into the future.

We have hope because our lawmakers have begun to respond to the overwhelming public support to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions in Utah. The Utah Roadmap is that response. Requested by Utah lawmakers during the 2019 legislative session, H.C.R. 11, is a resolution endorsing the “Utah Roadmap,” a report that provides a groundbreaking analysis of opportunities to reduce air emissions and ensure a healthy, productive, and prosperous future for all Utahns.

Focused on seven “mileposts,” the Utah Roadmap recommends targets for reducing emissions of air pollutants and the greenhouse gases that drive climate change. The report calls for positioning Utah as a market-based EV state and providing economic transition assistance to rural communities, and much more, with the goal of protecting our health, sustaining economic development, and advancing Utah’s 2030/2034 Olympic bid.

The Legislature’s commitment to the Utah Roadmap’s seven recommended mileposts for improving Utah’s air quality and addressing a changing climate would put the state on an important path toward ensuring Utah continues to have a thriving economy and bright future, for ourselves and generations to come.

We support the approval of the resolution supporting the Utah Roadmap and thank our legislators for their commitment to its principles, and to the future of what all of us in Utah hold so dear.

Kim Mayhew

Kim Mayhew is president/COO of Solitude Mountain Resort.

Francois Goulet is president, North America, of Groupe Rossignol.