May 12, 2009 in City

Sustainability plan gets cool acceptance

City Council notes reservations to task force’s proposal
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane City Council on Monday gave a lukewarm endorsement to ideas designed to help combat climate change.

The council’s approval was so reluctant that it added an amendment to the document that stressed the action was only to “accept” the report, which was drafted by the 13-member Sustainability Task Force formed last year by Mayor Mary Verner.

The report recommends several steps the city should take to cut its dependence on oil and reduce the city’s negative effect on climate change. Ideas include promotion of energy efficient construction and transportation. It also sets a goal for the city to acquire 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Before the vote, Verner said some of the opposition had raised arguments that were “just flat false” and were motivated by “party politics.”

The plan “is not something for you to reluctantly accept,” Verner said. “It’s something for you to eagerly embrace.”

About a dozen people testified. Just two spoke against the plan. Supporters wore green ribbons and stickers that said “I support a sustainable Spokane.”

In a hearing last month, though, supporters were taken by surprise when several opponents expressed concern about the involvement of the United Nations, pointed to scientists skeptical that human activity is playing a role in climate change and said goals could lead to higher government spending.

Task force members argued most of the ideas would save the city money in the long-term by reducing its energy spending. Councilman Mike Allen’s amendment stressing that the council was merely “accepting” the report was approved on a 5-2 vote. Final acceptance was supported by Allen and Council President Joe Shogan and Council members Steve Corker, Al French and Richard Rush. Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin rejected it.

Apple said the report lacked broad enough support. McLaughlin read quotes from a congressional report backed by U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., that lists scientists who believe human actions don’t have an effect on climate change.

“There is absolutely no consensus on the science,” McLaughlin said.

Mike Peterson, a task force member who directs the Lands Council, said a clear majority of scientists who study climate believe human actions affect the climate.


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