This summer’s wildfire smoke and bouts of blistering heat gave us new reminders of the problems that can come from climate change. And on Tuesday, Bend’s plan for more climate action solidified slightly with a nod of approval from three members of the Bend City Council on a council subcommittee.
There are still many questions. And the plan is far from final. Is the city picking the right priorities?
Councilors on the Stewardship Subcommittee were broadly supportive of goals for action proposed by the city’s Environment and Climate Committee. “I love all these ideas,” Councilor Anthony Broadman said, but the city has finite resources, staff and time.
The proposal is for six broad goals:
1. Get Bend to a 100% supply for renewable energy.
2. Create a revolving loan fund to move energy projects forward.
3. Support energy efficiency changes in the state building code.
4. Develop a home energy score program — sort of like a miles per gallon rating for the energy efficiency of a home.
5. Support an outreach program to reduce food waste.
6. Improve recycling at multifamily dwellings.
All those would require staff time. Most would require city money. Some, such as getting Bend to 100% renewable energy, would require “fairly hefty lifts with our utility providers,” said Bend City Manager Eric King.
Councilor Megan Perkins singled out the goal of getting to 100% renewable energy for particular praise. Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell pointed out the city could work with partners to lighten the city’s load. For instance, it could work with county government on food waste.
Councilors did not explore what, if any, additional costs any changes might mean for Bend residents. But it’s really too early for that. If these are the goals that get approved by the full Bend City Council, the city would have to go through a process, perhaps for the next year, of scoping out what each of these goals might mean in reality. And then taking more action would have to be weighed against the other responsibilities of the city — providing clean water and sewer, public safety, roads and more.
In the meantime, the city is already working on some transportation -related issues that are related to climate action, including more work to improve the ability for people to get around on foot, by bike and by transit. Those changes will very likely come much sooner than any of the six other goals.
King said one thing the city could do is look for ways to integrate the input of the Environment and Climate Committee into those transportation decisions.
If you like the idea of the city taking more climate action, get involved. If you are wary of what some of these changes might mean, get involved. The best way right now is likely to watch the meetings of the city’s Climate and Environment Committee. It’s the driving force behind many of these changes that are coming.