Wednesday, November 11, 2015
A group of concerned citizens from the Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network (CGCAN) is working to identify and accelerate the multiple benefits of transitioning to clean and renewable energy in Hood River and all the Gorge communities.
I needn’t remind you of the record-breaking weather we’ve had over the last year, from minimal snowpack and disappearing glaciers threatening our water supplies to record wildfires threatening our forest and homes. Many communities and counties are learning that climate-friendly, clean energy actions can lead to healthier, safer, and more resilient communities. They can create lots of local jobs and save lots of money. Many communities are learning that the advantages of abandoning fossil fuel energy extends far beyond climate effects. The industry’s greedy incentives to delay our fossil fuel independence is neither defensible science nor sustainable economics.
Hood River City Council will hold its annual goal-setting meeting Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Hood River Fire Station, near 17th and May streets. The meeting is open to the public.
Despite inaction in Congress, progressive cities and towns around the world have adopted Climate Action Plans to limit their carbon emissions, create opportunities for work and educate their citizens about how greater use of renewable energies will save funds that can be reinvested in other valuable areas of community life. In Oregon, Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Beaverton, and Hillsboro all have or are developing such plans. It is time for Hood River to study these plans, to join that group and model ways to live smarter.
So what are these Climate Action Plans? They are strategies intended to guide community efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We should think of it as a “Clean Energy Plan,” since the benefits of these plans address much more than climate disruption. Clean Energy strategies are focused on improving energy efficiency and deploying more renewable energy to power our homes and businesses. Homes and businesses are the source of nearly 75 percent of local carbon emissions. The plan would also promote strategies to reduce emissions from transportation, which accounts for over 20 percent of our local greenhouse gas sources.
A Clean Energy Plan could, for example, include building code additions like requiring electric vehicle (EV) charging circuits in garage stalls for new construction, adoption of LED street lighting, or starting a community solar program, perhaps with Hood River County.
The City of Hood River has already been taking actions toward sustainable energy — for example, the energy efficiency upgrades on City Hall several years ago, implementing walkable/bikable transportation, and adopting resolutions against coal and oil trains. But more needs to be done.
We recognize that the city has a lot of objectives on its plate already and that city staff is working at full capacity. Given the current city objectives and staff workload, we ask the City of Hood River for the following:
To make a Clean Energy Plan a higher priority at the upcoming November city goal setting for 2016.
To authorize and request that CGCAN search for and identify funding sources that can be used to pay for a Clean Energy Plan, and to do so with limited consultation with the City of Hood River staff. A report back will be produced within one year or sooner.
Just to be clear … we are asking that you make a Clean Energy Plan a higher priority for Hood River and that you authorize and request the CGCAN to search for and identify funding to pay the costs of the plan.
We envision that the City Council of Hood River will commit to a series of actions that will develop a more efficient, more prosperous, more sustainable, more healthful and a more livable community for us and our children. We would like to partner with the city on building this kind of future because it is doable and promises us all a more vibrant community. We look forward to your deliberation on our request and the city goal setting session in November.
Rev. John Boonstra is CGCAN Steering Committee Member, and presented this statement to the Hood River City Council on Oct. 26.