Have you heard enough ‘spin’ from politicians this summer? How about this for a political spin? This September Bill Barron, candidate for US Senate of Utah, will embark on a 1200 mile bike ride across Utah. Starting in Logan and ending in Kanab, Barron’s ride will also traverse to Vernal in the northeast corner of the state, and Bluff in the southeast corner. The “Ride for Utah” as Barron is calling it “is not just to connect with the people of Utah at face value, but also give them the opportunity to get to know who I am” says Barron. “This will be an amazing opportunity for me to create an open dialogue with the people of Utah and share with them my passion for this beautiful state and our natural world.” The ride is scheduled to take place September 3-24th.
-What is your background?
I grew up in rural Vermont, went to the University of Vermont and graduated with BA in Geography in 1989. I moved to Utah in 1990 and worked in the ski industry for ten years, at Alta. I was on the ski patrol in the mid 1990’s and spent two years as the deputy marshal for the town of Alta. I created Wasatch Frame Shop, a custom picture frame shop to pursue my ambitions of landscape photography and to stay connected with the outdoors while in Alta in the 1990’s, and ran a retail business of that name in Sugarhouse from 2002 to 2009. In 2009, I created Renewable Energy Resources, a non-profit to help facilitate ways for individuals to be more energy efficient and utilize renewable energy as a way to give back to nature for all that it has given to me. I attained 501c3 status and began doing presentations as part of an education and awareness series, where it became clear to me that although individual improvements are critical, that the scale of the issue we face requires a much larger solution. In July 2010, I founded the Utah Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby an international non-partisan, non-profit focused on promoting federal legislation to place a steadily increasing fee on carbon emissions at the source with 100% revenue returned to households ( http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/). The approach is called carbon fee and dividend, and there is legislation currently in the House that has many components of this approach, called the Save Our Climate Act. This legislation would not increase the size of the government, and provide the mechanism to allow our economy to drive a transition to clean energy. I have been to Washington every year since 2010 lobbying as a volunteer for this type of legislation.
-Why did you get into politics?
Through my work with the Citizens Climate Lobby, I have promoted this effective and critical component of how we can address human caused climate change, and even though the issue is urgent, it is not being addressed because climate change is “political” and typically politicians are afraid to speak about it for fear of being controversial. How can this be? Climate change is happening, we are the cause, scientists confirm this, and our best chance of being effective is to address this issue with a solution that matches the scale of the problem. I chose to run as an unaffiliated candidate to enroll people in the opportunity we have to provide stewardship of our natural world, stimulate the economy and create jobs. I have a nine year old daughter and I am deeply concerned for the world she and future generations will face if we don’t take significant action. I am committed to enrolling other people, especially those connected to nature who are concerned about our impact on the environment and are not sure what they can do-with a solution that everyone can participate in by speaking up as a citizen and using their vote to create the political will to enact effective climate legislation.
-How did you come up with the idea for the bike tour across Utah?
I have done two self supported mountain bike tours, a circumnavigation of Canyonlands for 18 days and a 2 month ride from Green River, Wyoming to Mesquite Nevada-roughly retracing John Wesley Powell’s exploration of the Colorado Plateau by bike. I see this bike campaign as a way to reach out to the people of Utah through a medium that suits my nature, and will be the most important ride of my life.
-What do you look to accomplish with the ride?
To take a stand on behalf of the earth and enroll the people of Utah in the urgent need to use the power of their vote to create the political will to address the most urgent issue of our time, and as an outdoor enthusiast myself, to show that leadership on this issue must grow at the individual level and can come from unique places on this ethical and moral issue that is caught in the tangle of politics. The time to be effective is now!
-How can people assist with the ride or get involved?
The map of the ride can be found on my website, (http://barronforussenate.com/rideforutah) with a list of towns and cities and corresponding dates. Join me on the ride, help create an event, or just show up to meet me along the way. Please let me know how you would like to help (http://barronforussenate.com/content/contact-us) “Like” me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barronforussenate or on twitter @barronforsenate to receive updates on when and where I will be passing by! Most at home in nature, it has been a surprise to my friends that I would choose to run for US Senate. The bottom line is that I have had so many amazing experiences that I came to a point where I feel that it is important to give back. Our natural world is suffering and I believe it is our time as outdoor enthusiasts to unite for a purpose that is greater than ourselves and speak up for the need to address human caused climate change, and to show stewardship for the places we love.
-What other important issues are outdoor enthusiasts facing in Utah?
Of course, the idea of demanding that the federal government relinquish control of federal lands to exploit its natural resources, or the idea of ski link being considered comes to mind, but when it comes down to it, the need to address human caused climate change is the most urgent issue of our generation, and if we don’t get this one right, all other issues will pale in comparison.
-How will climate change affect outdoor recreation?
I feel like it has already. Seasonal weather patterns are changing, more precipitation is falling as rain than snow during the winters in Utah, which is impacting the ski industry. The pristine air quality found in Utah’s National Parks has been compromised. The death of pristine forests due to the pine bark beetles because of mild winters has directly impacted scenic Utah. Science points to more drought, heat, extreme weather events, etc. as the new normal, adding another factor to consider in your next adventure. These are canaries in the coal mine. Shouldn’t we pay it forward so that our kids get a similar experience as we have?
-What are some of the other ideas in your platform?
Human equality, and quality education for all.
-What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors in Utah?
Biking, both road and mountain. Came to Utah for the skiing in 1990, and am still amazed at what there is to offer. I like exploring remote areas of Utah, and sleeping under the stars.