August 10, 2016

Whitehouse Completes Tour of Utah to See Effects of Climate Change on State’s Economy and Landscape

Utahns discuss the challenges they face from climate change, including increasing competition for water, shorter winters, reduced snowpack

Salt Lake City, UT – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrapped up his tour of Utah today having spent three days visiting areas of the state affected by climate change and discussing action to reduce carbon pollution.  Utah is the 13th state Whitehouse has visited in recent years to better understand how a changing climate influences state economies, disrupts local ecosystems, and alters the way of life in American communities. Whitehouse will use what he learned over the course of the trip to inform his work on climate policy in Washington as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Climate Action Task Force.

“From the Great Salt Lake to ski slopes to air quality, pollution and climate change pose major challenges to Utah’s economy and way of life.  This week I heard from Utahns who get the science behind our changing climate and are working hard to adapt to new realities like shorter winters and increasing competition for water.  They understand that we have to put in place sensible policies to reduce carbon pollution to protect some of Utah’s most important industries and its spectacular natural landscape.  Thanks to everyone who showed me around this week for the work you are doing to address climate change,” said Whitehouse.

On Monday, Whitehouse toured the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve in Layton, where water levels have fallen to record lows, presenting major challenges for the local economy and placing significant stress on native species.  The Nature Conservancy, which owns and operates the Preserve, led Whitehouse on the tour.

“It was an honor to host Senator Whitehouse at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve,” said Elizabeth Kitchens, The Nature Conservancy in Utah’s Director of Conservation Programs. “His visit provided a great opportunity to discuss the effects of climate change on Utah’s lands, waters, wildlife and economic future. We hope the information shared can help advance policy efforts to lessen the effects of climate change, ultimately improving our quality of life in Utah and across the planet.”

Read more about Whitehouse’s visit to the Preserve in the Deseret News.

Later on Monday, Whitehouse visited the Rio Tinto Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake soccer team, to meet with Utah Clean Energy, a non-profit focused on promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and representatives from Utah’s solar power, clean technology, manufacturing, and energy efficiency sectors, as well as end users of renewable energy such as tech companies and the stadium itself. 

Whitehouse began the day on Tuesday by visiting members of Utah’s skiing community to discuss how they are adapting to rapidly changing snow conditions.  Included in the meeting were representatives from Utah ski areas, the Utah Ski & Snowboard Association (Ski Utah), professional skiers with the Protect Our Winters campaign, and local ski enthusiasts and businesses supported by the industry. 

“We sincerely appreciated Senator Whitehouse’s visit to Utah and his willingness to lead the charge against climate change.  Utah’s $1.3 billion ski industry hangs its hat on the ability to provide our guests with ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’ – and we’d like to keep it that way.  We look forward to working with the Senator as he continues to make headway on this important issue for our state and its tourism economy,” said Nathan Rafferty, President and CEO of Ski Utah.

Read more about the Senator’s visit with Utah’s skiing community here, and check out what Utah-based professional skier Caroline Gleich had to say about the meeting.

Whitehouse then sat down with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski to discuss her climate policies and the challenges the City must face as a result of climate change.  Whitehouse also met with the heads of City departments and community groups, where he applauded the Mayor and City leaders for their ambitious renewable energy goals and for advocating for climate research and policy action.

“Salt Lake City is in the midst of one of the hottest and driest summers on record,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “We are facing threats to our water supply, $1 billion ski industry, and quality of life as a result of runaway climate change.  Incremental progress to combat this threat is no longer enough.  We’re proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Senator Whitehouse in acknowledging these risks and acting aggressively to implement the solutions that are right in front of us.”

Whitehouse added, “The Mayor and City officials have crafted strong renewable energy goals and sought to expand climate research so Utahns will know what to expect and how to adapt in years to come.  I appreciate their hard work, and thank them for joining the fight for climate action.”

Read more about the Senator’s visit with Mayor Biskupski and Salt Lake City officials here.

Later on Tuesday, Whitehouse traveled to Park City to meet with Summit Community Power Works, a collaborative nonprofit formed by Summit County and Park City to compete for the Georgetown University Energy Prize—a multi-year, $5 million prize given to communities that demonstrate cooperation in pursuing energy savings. 

Whitehouse then met with City Council Members and city staff of Park City to learn more about the effect climate change is having on the lifeblood of the local economy—winter resorts and ski lodges.

Listen to a report on the Senator’s visit to Park City at

After a visit with climate champion and world-renowned actor Robert Redford on Tuesday evening, Whitehouse ended his tour by meeting with Utah Moms For Clean Air to discuss action to combat climate change—a key part of improving air quality for Utah children. 

“Utah Moms For Clean Air is honored to have met with Senator Whitehouse because by championing policies to address climate change and air pollution, he is also championing the health and futures of our children. We do not see our own Utah congressional delegation fighting for the health of our children in this way, so it is heartening to know that there are nationally elected leaders representing our concerns,” said Ingrid Griffee, Vice President of Utah Moms for Clean Air.

Senator Whitehouse is a leading advocate for climate action in the Senate.  Every week the Senate is in session, Whitehouse speaks out on the Floor of the Senate, urging Congress to wake up to the threat of climate change.  Whitehouse has also introduced legislation to put a fee on carbon, establishing a market incentive to reduce emissions while generating substantial revenue to be returned to the American people.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921