The recent Washington Post article highlighting Utah Rep. John Curtis’s opportunistic use of clean-energy tax credits he voted against is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the congressman’s abysmal environmental record. That record includes recent attacks on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed “Public Lands Rule“ and repeated opposition to common-sense climate change mitigation, all while he claims to be a champion of the environment.
Rep. Curtis voted against and publicly opposed the Inflation Reduction Act, landmark legislation passed in 2022 that represented the greatest investment in climate change mitigation in U.S. history. He even voted against the methane rule in 2021, which focused on reducing methane leaks from natural gas operations and was supported by major oil and gas companies like BP and Shell. And in 2018, he introduced the SPEED Act, which would have omitted the environmental assessments of certain oil and gas projects on BLM lands, expediting new fossil fuel projects.
Beyond his distaste for climate-protecting measures, Rep. Curtis is also a longtime opponent of Bears Ears National Monument and introduced legislation in 2017 with other Utah congressional delegation members to codify the illegal reduction of the monument boundaries by then-President Donald Trump.
So, you may ask, what kind of legislation does Rep. Curtis support? Well, he voted in favor of the recent House debt-ceiling package, which includes numerous cuts and even future eliminations of renewable energy tax credits. He also supported H.R. 1, the Republican bill dubbed the “Polluters Over People Act,” which would increase fossil fuel production on public lands, reduce royalty rates paid to the government, undermine the National Environmental Policy Act, and roll back key climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (which, again, Curtis voted against).
So it comes as no surprise that as the chair of the Conservative Climate Caucus (which includes a few of the most anti-conservation and pro-extractive-industry members of Congress), Rep. Curtis has introduced legislation in the House that requires the BLM to withdraw a proposed rule that would raise conservation to the same level of importance as extractive uses on public lands (the Public Lands Rule, as it’s known, is consistent with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act’s “multiple use and sustained yield” mandate). This means that Rep. Curtis is directly opposed to managing America’s public lands in a balanced way that includes conservation.
Actions speak louder than words. If conservation and climate-friendly credentials are what Rep. Curtis is looking for, then he needs to start supporting legislative and policy efforts that will ensure a habitable planet for future generations. Absent real action, his public statements and the Conservative Climate Caucus will continue to serve as little more than a way to greenwash his reputation and slow-walk efforts necessary to make real progress on climate change.