For the final Carbon County Commission meeting of 2023, the commissioners discussed the consideration and possible approval of resolution 2023-06. This resolution was for supporting the energy industry, more specifically nuclear power, which was credited as a branch of economics that produces economic stability for the area.
This was something that Commissioner Larry Jensen brought forward and he stated that it is an effort by a Carbon and Emery team to send a message specifically to PacifiCorp and Rocky Mountain Power that, as a community, they are in favor of the potential of bringing nuclear power plants to the area.
This resolution mirrors one that Emery County also adopted recently. Commissioner Jensen continued by explaining that Carbon County is located in the Eastern Central region of Utah where the energy industry is highest-producing and the most valuable resource for the economy.
He then read some points from the resolution, beginning with the fact that the county has an interest in its own economic stability, as well as residents, industries and businesses. The energy sector is an important driver of industrial growth and a large driver of bringing other thriving jobs to the area. The economy of Carbon County is a conglomerate of the energy industry and it helps diversify the economy, he read.
The support of nuclear power would bring in employment with top-tier wages based on the unique nature of the job positions that are associated with nuclear power.
Commissioner Jensen stated that there is news from Rocky Mountain Power on the possible closure dates of power plants in Emery County that would affect all of the service industries. In an attempt to position the two counties in a place to have something take the place of coal-fired power plants, the nuclear option is a big one.
Commissioner Jensen has been involved in a lot of meetings over the last year and a half where he has listened to experts about the new type of nuclear power plants and how safe they truly are. He thinks of this as a breakthrough into the community and said there is a need to begin discussion and education on it.
“The community needs to be supportive of this, so as a commission, I think we’re sending a statement that we are in support of it,” stated Commissioner Jensen.
There has been an indication of a couple of plants that may be built locally and this resolution works as an effort to begin gaining support of that. Commissioner Tony Martines stated that this is not condemning coal or anything of that nature.
“Nuclear, in my mind, is a great way to go,” said Commissioner Martines. He said there are zero emissions and while many believe that it is terrible due to media portrayals, he believes that this is a good thing for the community and should be embraced and welcomed.
Casey Hopes, Commission Chair, added that the San Rafael Energy Research Center has helped put this to the forefront with its studies of nuclear technologies. There is also a lot of money being invested into carbon capture as well as different ways to burn and utilize coal. Commissioner Hopes believes this is a good thing for the region and economy.
From there, the resolution was approved by the commissioners.