Utah Schoolchildren Asked To Celebrate Fossil Fuels And Mining On Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22, and today is the last day children in Utah can send in their submissions for the state-sponsored Earth Day poster contest lauding fossil fuel production.

This year’s theme is “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?

Last year’s theme was “How Do YOU Use Oil, Gas, and Mining?”

The contest is literally made possible by fossil fuel interests. This year’s sponsors include the Salt Lake Petroleum Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining. Last year’s sponsor list was longer, including Arch Coal, Anadarko Petroleum, and Rio Tinto/Kennecott Utah Copper.

Any child in Utah between Kindergarten and sixth grade is eligible. The contest’s primary objective is “to improve students’ and the public’s awareness of the important role that oil, gas, and mining play in our everyday lives.” Last year’s contest winners made posters that detailed how dependent we have become on fossil fuels. To their credit, the grand prize winner detailed both ways we use products created by fossil fuels and ways we can reduce our consumption.

The children were not asked to make posters about the climate impacts caused by those same fossil fuels: drought, wildfires, and warmer winters.

Some parents are not happy, as this letter to the editor by Colby Poulson makes clear:

Why is the state backing an “Earth Day” contest that celebrates fossil fuels, while completely ignoring the adverse effects that their use and extraction can too often have on our air quality, water quality, public lands and the other organisms we share the world with? Shouldn’t Earth Day be about championing things that can help reverse the negative impact of our dependence on fossil fuels?

Frankly, I’m disgusted that the state is backing propaganda like this in our schools.

Why allow a contest like this to run two years in a row? The state could be taking its cues from its Congressional delegation, one of whom runs the House Science subcommittee and denies the reality of human-caused climate change. Or its state legislature, which in 2010 adopted a resolution doubting the reality of climate change.

Perhaps they missed the Salt Lake Tribune‘s editorial, “A killing climate: Global warming unchecked,” or those Utah scientists who reported:

Based on extensive scientific research, there is very high confidence that human-generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations are responsible for most of the global warming observed during the past 50 years. It is very unlikely that natural climate variations alone, such as changes in the brightness of the sun or carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes, have produced this recent warming. …

Utah is projected to warm more than the average for the entire globe and the expected consequences of this warming are fewer frost days, longer growing seasons, and more heat waves.

Appropriately, the winners of the Earth Day poster contest will be notified on April Fool’s Day.

32 Responses to Utah Schoolchildren Asked To Celebrate Fossil Fuels And Mining On Earth Day

  1. Pat Ravasio says:

    We have to have faith that people are not so stupid as to fall for these dumb political tricks. I hope they don’t disappoint us.

  2. Sasparilla says:

    The fossil fuel republic of Utah – this belongs in a movie and is rather embarrassing to be happening in the U.S..

    I guess it shows how fossil fuel money corrupts wherever it originates from (there will just be too much money and power there) – whether its a Banana Republic somewhere or a western state.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Where would WE be without fossil fuels’- not facing a life of suffering and disaster and the collapse of civilisation.

  4. Marie says:

    Got indoctrination?

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    State legislators are a particularly slimy bunch, somewhere between casket salesmen and sports betting touts. Many states would announce similar groveling to dirty fuels. Throwing in the brainwashing of innocent schoolchildren makes this effort especially evil.

    As Thompson once said about Bush I, “He seeks out filth wherever he goes, and then rolls around in it, crazily sticking his feet in the air, like a wild hog gone to water”.

  6. Lore says:

    This year’s theme is “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?”

    I hope some smart kid submits a poster that states; “at least one degree cooler”.

  7. rdale says:

    Remember when President Obama was first elected and wanted to give an address to the kiddies to stay in school, Utah was one of the places where people reacted in horror and made such a stink that kids were allowed to skip school, so they wouldn’t see the KenyanSOSH’uhl’istMooselimGayAbortionNazi and be warped for life.

  8. Chris says:

    Just change the name to pillage-the-Earth Day. Problem solved.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Get ’em young, ME

  10. David Smith says:

    I think this is an indication that we are making progress; the other side is starting to lose it.

  11. Chris Winter says:

    I hope the same. Indeed, there is ample scope for kids with some insight into what’s happening in other states and countries to write about e.g. no mountaintop removal in West Virginia, or no “Sargasso of plastic” in the Pacific since plastics are in large part derived from oil.

    Let’s hope the judges of this contest have some independence.

  12. Sharon Kettelhut says:

    When Utah starts losig its tourist business because of a lack of snow, or when their forests and vacation homes disappear behind a wall of wildfire, maybe they’ll wake up. Maybe it will be too late.

  13. Leon H says:

    We used to plant a tree on Earth day. What a sad commentary on what passes for “education” these days.

  14. Marie says:

    Is teaching children to be ignorant an oxymoron?
    Why do they want their children to be the dunces of the next generation?

  15. D. R. Tucker says:

    The author of “Overheated; The Human Cost of Climate Change” will join us. UC Berkeley Law professor Andrew Guzman will tell us why global warming is so much more than an environmental problem! Author and longtime eco- activist Jayni Chase will check in from the U.N. Conference on Happiness and share her green values and visions for a healthier world!

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

  16. Marie, I suppose that children have to be taught to curb and suppress their natural curiosity. So it may not be an oxymoron.

    They don’t just want their children to be dunces, they want their children to be proudly ignorant, insular, self-absorbed, xenophobic, god-fearing, government-hating cretins. I could go on, but you get my drift. :)

  17. rollin says:

    We live in a world that profits from falsehoods.
    I know of one state that used it’s publicly donated nature conservation money to fund hunter education programs in the state schools. Utah has just done them one better. This does demonstrate one weakness, they are slow to think as demonstrated by how long it took for them to come up with this one.

  18. rlanden says:

    No, they just have no self respect. Never have, and never will.

  19. jk says:

    An article about U.S. Representative Chris Stewart, R-Utah, the new chairman of the House environmental subcommittee:

  20. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    They won’t wake up; they will just blame gay rights

  21. It should be a picture perfect poster! One without ozone pollution, smog, soot, cancer and respiratory plague, floating islands of plastic, landfills of petroleum-produced junk taking the place of glaciers. Picture this, boys and girls: a world WITHOUT Global Warming! We should inundate the Salt Lake Petroleum Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining with our visions of a world without them.

  22. wendy says:

    Maybe they can have a poster contest for orphans to celebrate Mother’s Day!

  23. Yeah. Where woud the people in the Nigerian delta be without fossil fuels. Catching fish and living happily, instead of living in an environmental disaster zone.

  24. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Philip, really, have you forgotten your neo-liberal catechism? Those aren’t ‘people’. Those are ‘externalities’, or, if we wish to adopt the ‘militant mode’, we may say ‘collateral damage’.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As was always absolutely certain, as the morally insane Right’s global totalitarian system of Full Spectrum Greed and utter contempt for the well-being of others began to crumble, they could only ever grow more and more deranged. These creatures are incapable of moral or intellectual growth, so they must simply grow more and more extreme, in a frantic attempt to bully and intimidate Reality to bow down before their magnificence. The growing attack on education reflects their contempt for rationality, their preference for obedient ignorance over intellectual curiosity, and their general misanthropy, directed at children.

  26. Cherise Udel says:

    In Response to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Earth Day Poster Contest, Utah Moms for Clean Air announces Alternative Earth Day Poster Contest!

    In an effort to make a PARODY out of the otherwise serious Earth Day Poster Contest sponsored by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, the Society for Petroleum Engineers and endorsed by the State of Utah, Utah Moms for Clean Air is now hosting an alternative Earth Day Poster Contest – one that actually honor’s the intent of Earth Day. The rules will be the same with the exception of the theme and deadline.

    The Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining’s Earth Day poster theme is “Where Would We Be Without Oil, Gas, & Mining?” Students are asked to describe the benefits of coal, oil and natural gas, but not the impacts associated with burning fossil fuels.

    Utah Moms for Clean Air’s alternative theme is “Explore the Economic, Environmental and Health Costs of Fossil Fuels on Utah.” Exploring the impacts of burning fossil fuels is encouraged.

    As is the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining’s contest, the Utah Moms for Clean Air contest will be open to all K-6th grade and Special Education students throughout Utah.

    Winners, their parents, teachers, and principals will be honored at a Real Earth Day picnic on Saturday May 4th hosted by Utah Moms for Clean Air. The GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be announced at the award’s picnic.

    Also, since Governor Herbert is going to sign certificates for the winners of the Fossil Fuel poster contest, we asked today that he too support our contest and sign certificates for all of the winners. We are awaiting his response, which we asked to receive by Friday.

    More information about the contest is available on the Utah Moms for Clean Air website: or via email:

  27. Joan Savage says:

    Most Utah residents are urbanites along the west front of Wasatch Mountains which are their water supply.
    To the east of them are the new mining interests, the oil shales and tar sands that would exhaustively use water if developed.

    So the short answer to where the Utah children would be without oil, gas and mining: they would have better water supply security for their adult lives.

    That’s not even counting what climate change is going to do to Utah in terms of water supply, even if local fossil fuels are not developed.

  28. Syd Bridges says:

    Coming in November: posters extolling the virtues of Christmas. It is open to all turkeys in Utah.

  29. Spike says:

    In the UK climate change education is to be scaled back in the curriculum, much to the disgust of one pupil who has set up a petition against education minister Gove’s decision:

  30. Sasparilla says:

    Yes Marie, good one….

  31. Sasparilla says:

    Sounds awesome…hopefully you folks will get good play time in the press (since there’s conflict here and its obvious one side is just corrupt).

  32. Lionel A says:

    Considering this move and also that Climate Science Denier Rep. Chris Stewart [R-UT] is chairing the House Science, Space and Technology sub-committee, maybe the US should simply declare Utah ‘A Rogue State’.