Protesters crashed the stage Thursday morning at the Governor’s Energy Summit to unveil a banner and chant in front of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry before they were removed from the stage.
The protestors sang “your time is up, people are rising” and held a banner that said “your time is up, climate action now” during a policy discussion panel before the lights were turned down, music was turned up to drown the chants out and they were ushered off the stage.
While Herbert said immediately after the event, that he appreciates “youthful enthusiasm,” he suggested that the protesters start their own conference instead of storming another. He said the opportunity to communicate is something that should be improved and said that what the protestors wanted — cleaner fuels — is already being worked on.
“That’s happening,” Herbert said. “They want it to happen now, but the practical reality is it takes some time to transition without crashing the economy.”
Perry echoed Herbert’s suggestion of forming another conference during a media availability following the panel.
“If you’re not getting protested from time to time, you’re not getting much done,” Perry said.
Thursday’s conference was the eighth year for the event and brought in people from more than 20 states and six countries to discuss energy issues.
Herbert praised rural Utah’s contributions to the state’s energy supply during his opening remarks at the conference while announcing two new energy developments that will help to cleanly fuel Utah.
“Rural Utah powers the Wasatch Front, its homes, its businesses and its industry,” Herbert said.
The world’s first large-scale facility to combine geothermal and hydropower technology will be built in Beaver County and the world’s largest renewable energy storage project, dubbed the Utah Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project, will be built in Beaver County. When built, the project is expected to generate enough power to meet the needs of 150,000 households.
Herbert said that while fossil fuels make up the foundation of Utah’s energy use, the use of renewable energy has increased from 1% to 11%.
Perry praised Herbert’s leadership and spoke in favor of an “all of the above” approach when it comes to energy use. He said that the nation is producing energy more abundantly, more efficiently and is obtaining it from a more diverse set of sources.
“Under this president’s administration, ‘all of the above’ truly means ‘all of the above’ in terms of energy strategy,” Perry said. “It means removing those draconian restrictions on oil and gas and coal.”
That strategy, he said, also includes embracing nuclear energy.
He said that embracing all types of energy increases economic security and bolsters national security.
Perry also said the nation is the top producer of oil and gas and is leading the world in reducing energy-related carbon emissions.
“All too often, either people aren’t hearing or they don’t want to believe it, but we have proved that we can make our energy cleaner without surrendering one single goal, one bit of growth, one iota of opportunity,” he said.
Herbert said there’s a market demand for reliable, sustainable, affordable and clean energy.
“We are seeing that all happen in Utah,” he said.
He said that energy should not be a partisan issue and that the private sector is the best option for pursuing solutions.
After the panel, Perry said energy is continually getting cleaner as the nation moves away from inefficient power plants and embraces nuclear energy.
He praised Utah’s approach.
“I am delighted that Utah remains in the ‘all of the above’ strategy,’” he said.