Utah’s Next Governor Doesn’t Buy Human-Caused Global Warming

  • Published on May 21st, 2009

Sunflower on hot autumn day in Utah

Herbert and Huntsman don’t see eye to eye on climate change

Just two weeks after President Barack Obama’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, was replaced by new Kansas governor, Mark Parkinson — who quickly ended a nearly two-year standoff by granting an air permit for a new coal-fired power plant in the southwestern part of the state — another one of the President’s high-profile political appointees will be replaced as governor by a politician less concerned about the environment.


After President Obama tapped Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, a Republican, as the next U.S. Ambassador to China, some attention shifted to his likely replacement, Utah Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, and the direction the new governor plans on taking the state. While observers don’t expect any sudden policy reversals, Herbert’s position on the human-causes of global warming stands in striking opposition to his predecessor’s.

The pair, described by some as a political odd-couple, stand strongly opposed on a variety issues across the political landscape.  Herbert said at a news conference Monday that he and Huntsman have always agreed on “core issues.”

“We understand the importance of clean air and clean water and being good stewards of the Earth,” said Herbert. But Herbert doesn’t believe the science is really in on global warming yet. And his position on the human-causes of climate change put him much more in line with his fellow Republicans than the outgoing Huntsman. Huntsman has been openly criticized by fellow Utah Republicans for his stance on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

While Huntsman had entered Utah into the seven-state Western Climate Initiative — along with fellow Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger — in an effort to set the stage for a market-based control on greenhouse gas emissions, Herbert is far less concerned with the issue, arguing that a carbon cap would raise energy prices and drive jobs overseas.

“I have no plans to pull us out” of the bipartisan cap-and-trade program being developed by Western states, Herbert said, despite calls for such a move by some conservative Republican legislators.

At least he doesn’t plan on pulling out right away.

Herbert will have a shortened one-year term before a special gubernatorial election in 2010. In the meantime, the far-right Herbert will do his best to not rock the centrist ideological-boat that Governor Jon Huntsman had been steering since 2005.

Image: Jared Smith via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.


  • Your right SLC will complain and moan…until their utility bills double from cap and trade….

  • He won't last. Despite being one of the "reddest" states in the union, Salt Lakers are very progressive environmentally. They won't tolerate regression on the issue

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