U.S. Senate candidate: clean energy good, SkiLink bad

Jay Hamburger The Park Record
Bill Barron, who is not affiliated with a political party, is campaigning for the Senate seat now held by Republican Orrin Hatch. Barron says climate change is a "moral and ethical issue." He is scheduled to appear in Park City on Thursday. Courtesy of Bill Barron

A Salt Lake City man who has never held elected office before is mounting a long shot campaign for the U.S. Senate, stumping on a platform that is heavily influenced by environmentalism.

Bill Barron is running as an unaffiliated candidate for the seat held by Republican Orrin Hatch. The Democratic candidate is Scott Howell. Barron is a carpenter and a ski patroller. He grew up in rural Vermont and said he has a deep appreciation for the outdoors and the environment. He drives a Chevrolet Silverado truck that runs on unleaded gas and natural gas.

Barron described a diverse background that included time working for not-for-profit environmental groups and starting an art gallery and framing shop.

"The bottom line is we need to be stewards of land for future generations," Barron said.

He said human-caused climate change trumps other issues that the candidates are stressing in the campaign. Barron said climate change is a "moral and ethical issue." He said it must be addressed urgently.

He wants to charge fees on fossil fuel industries at the source of extraction. The fees would then be distributed back to households to offset the expected price increases by the industries.

That sort of arrangement would ensure the private sector, rather than the government, leads a transition to cleaner-burning fuels, he said.

Another platform plank is economic growth through clean energy industries. He said his platform would boost the economy by "opening up a whole new world of business" in the clean energy industry in Utah.

Barron opposes an idea to link Canyons and Solitude with a gondola, a proposal known as SkiLink. The concept hinges on congressional legislation authorizing the sale of federal land to Talisker Mountain Incorporated, the parent company of Canyons.

The Talisker firm and Canyons envision SkiLink being a transportation alternative that would reduce traffic between the Park City area and Big Cottonwood Canyon. Barron does not agree with the premise.

"I don’t see SkiLink really bringing enough people back and forth to be justified . . . We should be preserving natural land," he said.

Barron plans a campaign rally at the Olympic Welcome Plaza in Park City on Thursday from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. He is bicycling on a planned 1,200-mile route through Utah over three weeks as part of his campaign. He arrives in Park City from Salt Lake City and departs the next day for Duchesne, according to an itinerary posted on his campaign website.

"A metaphor for life itself; over mountains and through valleys, this ride will pass through the beauty of our state, as well as see first hand the exploitation of our natural resources," the website says in describing the bicycling part of his campaign.

His environmentally centered platform is something that could attract at least some support in the Park City area given Parkites’ longstanding interest in the issue. Park City voters have a long history of supporting candidates at all levels of government with a strong environmental plank to their platform.

Dana Williams, the three-term mayor of Park City, is the best known locally, having made an idea known as sustainability, which encompasses environmentalism and related issues, the core of his administration.

More information about Barron is available on his website,


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