Utah Policymakers Response to Bush Address

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    By Julie Espinosa

    Utah”s politicians were pleased with the overall tone of President Bush”s State of the Nation address, particularly with certain pledges that would affect the state – advocating immigration reform and alternative energy development.

    “President Bush did not use the State of the Union to paint a rosy picture,” said 3rd District Congressman Chris Cannon (R-Utah) in a news release. “He stood before America and was honest about some tough issues -partisan politics, military deaths, the problems faced by social security, and our heavy reliance on foreign oil.”

    First District Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said in a news release he was pleased with Bush”s upbeat ideological speech.

    “I”m grateful for the emphasis he put on America”s need to lead – whether that be militarily in the global war on terror or economically in the global market place,” Bishop said.

    Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) also said he admired Bush”s determined tone and his focus on principles.

    “He”s anxious to reach out, he”s anxious to get support, but he”s not willing to back away from that which he believes to be the correct, basic principles,” Bennett said on his Web site. “It was not a laundry list of bills to pass, it was a call for America to step up to greatness and I think the people will respond.”

    Cannon said he particularly agreed with Bush”s call for immigration reform. Cannon has been seeking to reform immigration policy during his time in the House. This January he formed an Immigration Advisory Committee of Utahns to discuss solutions for immigration problems in Utah.

    “I am pleased that he called for an immigration system that deals with the influx of illegal immigrants realistically to deal with the millions who live in the shadows of our society,” Cannon said. “Now it”s time for both the House and the Senate to rise to the President”s challenge and enact meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.”

    Gov. Huntsman”s Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Mower said Huntsman, along with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, is working on a resolution on immigration that the Western Governors” Association will consider adopting within a few weeks.

    Bush”s call to reduce dependence on oil energy was a topic that 2nd District Congressman Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) were enthused about.

    “I was also glad that President Bush shares my long-held belief that energy independence requires investment in new technology,” said Matheson in a news release. “As a member of the House Science Committee, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work towards the research and development of innovative solutions to our energy needs.”

    Hatch said he hoped Utah would be at the forefront of energy development.

    “Utah”s going to play a major role in America”s energy future,” Hatch said in a news release. “We”re sitting on a vast reserve of domestic oil supply in oil shale and tar sands, and we have tremendous resources of renewable energy.”

    Mowers said Huntsman appreciated the president”s focus on developing other energy forms, especially because of the state”s tar sands and oil shell deposits

    Utah Clean Energy”s executive director, Sarah Wright, said Utah”s oil supply is not a proven option, but there are many renewable proven technologies available for harvest in the state.

    “There are many emerging technologies – some are primed and ready to go,” Wright said. “Utah has between 1,000 and 2,000 watts of wind power. We have a vast solar resource that can be developed to help us meet power demands, and geothermal resources as well.”

    Wright said her organization was optimistic about the future of clean energy after Bush”s remarks, but cautioned there would need to be funding for the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, whose budgets have been cut.

    “We really need to be investing more rather than cutting resources,” Wright said. “I”m hopeful there will be a change – those programs are critical. We were thrilled to have President Bush”s support for renewable energy sources. We think that is the direction the nation needs to go to ensure its long-term environmental and economic future.

    (For comments, e-mail Julie Espinosa at )

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