Utah to Sue California Over Coal Power Fees

On Monday, Utah lawmakers gave approval for a $2 million proposal to sue California over their cap and trade Program. Republican Rep. Mike Noel spearheaded the proposal that hopes to reduce fees for coal-fired power in Utah. Only one Democratic lawmaker objected.

California is currently charging an extra $15 per megawatt hour to purchase from Utah’s Intermountain Power Plant, a coal-fired plant in Delta, Utah.

Noel contended that California’s laws are violating the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. He believes California’s fees are hindering an already hurt coal industry that’s key to the economic health of several rural Utah counties. Noel believes that California is trying to push their “values” on Utah.

Of course, California regulators would disagree, asserting they’re not “singling out Utah” but merely trying to reward less pollution regardless of its origin. They assert their green initiative as in no way biased.

Not everyone in Utah wants to see this $2 million proposal to go through, though. Ashley Soltysiak, Utah chapter director for the non-profit conservation organization “The Sierra Club,” condemned the proposal, citing it as a poor use of taxpayer money at the expense of the environment.

For the past few years, we have seen the clash between GOP and Democratic ideals over the use of environmentally-damaging natural resources such as coal. While coal hurts the environment, it also hurts blue collar workers. The industry has seen a 40 percent drop in production since 2015, says Larry Johnson, mine manager of Alton Coal Development, who is in support of the proposal.

The issue of renewable energy in the U.S. is a highly divisive topic. California is taking a strong initiative to influence the rest of the country to follow suit in what they believe is the country’s best interest. Meanwhile, Utah is more concerned with the welfare of those who need the coal industry in order to survive financially. It’s a highly contested moral dilemma on both sides without an easy answer.