Frank R. Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb: Global warming, Gary Ott, and 3rd District produce hot politics

While the causes of Utah’s recent hot weather might be disputed, there is no question that heated politics in the state are man-made. With our shades on, we explore the warming global political discussions in Utah.

President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement among almost 150 countries designed to reduce greenhouse gases and slow global warming. Trump’s action generated tremendous negative reaction across the planet. Does this impact Utah?

Pignanelli: “I would go back in time and bring scientists with me to create a hairspray that would not cause global warming. But it would still give us ’80s hair.” — Julianne Hough 

Several months ago, when driving my teenage boys to school, they loudly complained our family maintained a too large carbon footprint. I quickly suggested they could walk or use public transportation to all their destinations. (Not heard a peep since.)

Weird. The unintended impact of Trump’s statement is similar to the message I delivered to my children: Decreasing CO2 emissions requires more than a remote mandate from a higher authority, but through individual efforts.

Trump’s decision dramatically alters the political landscape. Conservative Utahns fighting against federal encroachment now have left-wing allies promoting “states rights” in developing environmental policies. National special-interest groups will expand resources beyond federal elections. Thus, future candidates for state and local offices will need detailed positions on global warming.

Media and public affairs organizations will analyze businesses as to their carbon production policies. Demands from Republican millennials to Congress for an alternative to the Paris Accord are expected. Democrats must exercise caution with anti-industry rhetoric on this issue or again lose their blue-collar voters.

Hyperactivity in social media will compel neighbors and co-workers to judge each other by perceived CO2 emissions. So I may not avoid another family discussion. (Shoot.)

Webb: The Paris Accord established voluntary standards, so was mostly symbolic. Other countries have not met goals established by previous agreements. Whether the U.S. is part of the Paris Accord or not won’t make any difference in Utah. Our state and country will continue to clean up the environment and generate more and more clean, renewable energy. We’re on a clean energy path.

Some states, cities and big corporations continue their allegiance to the Paris Accord. That’s the way federalism should operate. States and local governments should pursue their own course.

What will reduce carbon emissions and produce a clean environment faster than anything else is strong economic growth and good jobs. When basic needs are taken care of, people turn to the environment and other higher-order priorities. Well-off people have the money to afford electric cars, solar panels and to contribute to environmental groups. People struggling financially, trying to get by any way they can, aren’t much concerned about global warming.

Economic growth is the key to a clean environment.

Salt Lake County Democratic Mayor Ben McAdams publicly called on Republican County Recorder Gary Ott to resign. An excellent report by Deseret News reporter Katie McKellar highlighted Ott’s obvious mental competency issues. Was this a responsible action by the mayor or a partisan attack?

Pignanelli: McAdams is a nice guy. So is Ott and most everyone at the county. Until now, no one confronted this obvious problem. Kudos to McAdams for his leadership … and niceness.

Ott’s survival in office raises a bigger question. Is a full county government necessary in a valley with wall-to-wall cities? A visionary lawmaker may initiate formal inquiries.

Webb: McAdams absolutely was right to call for Ott’s resignation. Nothing partisan about it. The Legislature should establish provisions allowing removal from office in situations like this. People close to Ott must convince him that he should resign. No one should be covering for him to keep him in office. If he won’t resign, his salary should be eliminated.

The GOP race to replace Congressman Jason Chaffetz in the 3rd Congressional District continues to be interesting. Tanner Ainge, son of Boston Celtics general manager (and former Celtics and BYU player) Danny Ainge, may have obtained the signatures needed to be placed on the primary ballot. What are politicos saying and analyzing on this contest?

Pignanelli: A few wizened veterans correctly predicted Ainge as the dark horse, which he now is. Provo Mayor John Curtis must use paid signature gatherers to catch up. The picture changes after the June 17 GOP convention.

Webb: A number of dynamics create a fascinating race. Thanks to the Count My Vote/SB54 compromise, we’ll have a real primary election with at least two or three candidates, instead of having just one candidate emerge from the convention as the nominee. GOP voters will have a real choice.

I believe Provo Mayor John Curtis and Sen. Deidre Henderson are both fine candidates and remain the front-runners. Ainge adds intrigue and demonstrates organizational ability as the first candidate to apparently gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Stewart Peay, another newcomer, is supported by Ann Romney, who appeared at an event with him.

Opening up the process to all voters has produced an exciting race.