February 16, 2019

Washington, DC – Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), member of the Natural Resources Committee, delivered the following remarks at the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee hearing regarding climate change.

“If any of you have been to Utah, you’ll understand why I believe Utahns have it in their DNA to be good stewards of this earth. It comes quite naturally. As a boy scout, I was taught to leave my campground cleaner than I found it. I actually believe that both Republicans and Democrats believe that to be true. I regret the stereotypes that are often formed around this issue. Somehow, all Republicans hate the environment and all Democrats are alarmists. I don’t believe either of those stereotypes are true.

I hope we can find common ground as we talk. You’ve heard from a lot of my colleagues today, on how important the forests are in this issue. I’d like to add to that: clean air, natural disaster resiliency, and the impact of local and state governments and elected officials. I believe personally, having been a former mayor, that if you want to reduce it by two degrees, mayors know how to solve this. I think it’s a mistake when we feel like there is somehow one magic fix at the federal level that we can mandate, a one-size-fits-all, to solve this problem.

I want to give a quick example. In Utah, in Salt Lake City and in Utah County, we have a unique problem; we’re surrounded by mountains on all sides. Particularly in the winter months, we get what’s called an ‘inversion’ where a high pressured system comes in and traps the air in those valleys. If you ask Utahns what the largest environmental crisis is, they’ll say clean air, and they’ll say it about 15 times a year. Otherwise, we enjoy beautiful mountain clean air. 

In response to this, our Governor, in his last state of the Union just several weeks ago, increased the money in his budget, not two times, not three times, but 117times for clean air. Introducing initiatives with transit,  we have big issues with wood burning stoves and that was a big part of it, electrical vehicle charging stations, and things like that were part of his plan. I mentioned that I was mayor before I came here, and our city recognized the need to take responsibility and we produced something called the Provo Clean Air Toolkit.

I would hope that you would all search on the internet for the Provo Clean Air Tool Kit and in it, I think you’ll see a masterful plan for cities about what individuals can do, what municipal government can do, colleges can do, businesses can do, to improve quality. We also introduced transit; we worked on walking and biking. As the major, I committed to riding my bike to work 100 times in a given year to try and inspire my residents to do the same. We introduced renewables. We’re a municipal power city, we were 70% coal when I took over, we introduced renewables and gave our residents the chance to buy as much as 100% of their energy from renewables.

We also recognized that no matter what we did as a government, unless the hearts and minds of our residents were in tune with this need, that we would accomplish nothing. We came up with what we called the “Provo Clean Air Challenge Pledge” and we had several points that we challenged our residents to do.

Before my time expires, I would just like to really emphasize how important it is that as members of Congress, we are personally doing what we can do before we ask other people to do it. Are we changing our lightbulbs, are we not using plastic bags, all of those things. The second thing is to remember the power of local government in solving this problem, and make sure we’re empowering them and not ignoring them.”


In September of 2018, Congressman Curtis wrote an op-ed in the Daily Herald about Utah environmental issues and collaboration on potential solutions. Click here to read.

Provo Clean Air Challenge:

  • Change must start with us on a personal level
  • I would challenge my colleagues to take the pledge with me
  • I will consolidate vehicle trips and reduce my family’s total driving
  • I will park and walk instead of using drive-up windows
  • I will not let my vehicle idle for more than 30 seconds, even on cold mornings
  • I will ride my bike, car-pool, or use public transportation

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