Local Climate Fight Coming to Your Ballot
Prop. 1 Wants to Pre-emp Local Action
Climate change, global warming, is here. We experience it right here in Spokane with year after year of record heat and choking smoke. If we do not quit adding to the greenhouse gases, including methane (natural gas) and carbon dioxide, that we have pumped into the atmosphere over the last two centuries we will ultimately face a world that is uninhabitable.
The first thing one needs do when trapped in a hole is to stop digging. Installing more gas lines and equipping more houses and apartments to burn natural gas (methane) at the same time as we try to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels makes no sense. Stop digging.
This imminently reasonable idea of limiting new installations of natural gas infrastructure was floated among the proposals made in an action plan draft released earlier this year by the City’s volunteer Sustainability Action Subcommittee. The Subcommittee has been working for two years to update the City of Spokane’s 2009 Sustainability Action Plan, something many of us were unaware even existed.
The draft proposal that the city ban “gas hookups from all new commercial and multifamily residential buildings by 2023, and from all new construction by 2028” must have set off alarm bells among climate deniers and doubters, purveyors of fossil fuels, and the building industry. Even though no Spokane legislator is proposing to ban natural gas hookups (yet), these interest groups sense a threat to their bottom line. They gathered their resources and quickly proposed and gathered signatures for Proposition 1, which will appear on the ballot in the November general election.
Here’s the clever wording:
Shall the Spokane City Charter be amended to adopt the Spokane Cleaner Energy Protection Act - preventing the City from adopting any code, ordinance, or regulation that would prohibit the use of hydroelectric power or natural gas?
The effort is backed by political action committee, “Spokane Citizens for Cleaner Energy,” almost entirely bankrolled by the Spokane Good Government Alliance PAC whose major contributors include hotelier Walt Worthy, Washington Trust Bank and building industry organizations.
Proposition 1 is a pre-emption, an end-run. It proposes not just a city ordinance, but a change in the city charter to head off any passage of a regulation in the City of Spokane that would limit the natural gas infrastructure.
From a short article by Adam Shanks in the Spokesman on July 31 introduced me to Prop 1, “Natural gas debate heading to Spokane ballots in November”:
The signature gathering effort and the initiative’s marketing have been handled by Camelback Strategies, a political consulting firm that has worked on behalf of politicians like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
The marketing is nauseatingly clever: Hide the singular intent to cut off the power of the elected city council to even consider limiting fossil fuels. Hide it by linking the ban to hydroelectric power (this is vintage McMorris Rodgers rhetoric) as if anyone were proposing to ban hydroelectric. (No one is.) Then clothe the whole thing in a twisted lie: “Spokane Citizens for Cleaner Energy” is a deceptive name meant to gather votes of those inclined toward attacking climate change but not paying close attention. This is pure Republican climate-denying propaganda meant to mislead the voting public by preemptively limiting the ability of the City Council to even consider the issue. Prop 1 is the ultimate in deception and self-interest. It is time to rebel.
What can you do? The five month comment period on the Action Plan ends this month. The forces behind Prop 1 are doing everything they can to undermine the Plan. Show your general support for the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan by filling out this survey today:
You aren’t required to read the whole Action Plan to fill out the survey. Don’t get stalled in filling out the survey by feeling you must understand every detail—but if you have time to dig deeper here are some links:
"Climate Chaos: Our Present, Our Future" - S-R op-ed co-authored by Brian Henning, Amber Lenhart, Dr. Bob Lutz. 8/1/21 (Excellent!)
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Below I have copied the email that alerted me to the Survey and to the Action Plan. It caught my attention in part because I had read Adam Shanks’ article on Prop 1.
I'm casting out to my entire network to ask a question. Have you completed the survey on the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan? Chances are you haven't (maybe don't even know about it).
If not, please, please do. This is an urgent call to show your support for a community-based, volunteer-driven, collectively organized plan to address climate chaos. that will be submitted to the City Council for adoption before the end of the year.
You don’t have to read the SAP to take the survey. You don’t really need to know anything about it (although I think it would be worth your while to learn what’s in it). Submitting it won’t take long. I did it in under 5 minutes, and it's mostly multiple choice. You can offer ideas and comments, but you don’t have to be creative or think about it too much. Just doing the survey will show that you care.
Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YFNYGB2
Here’s the thing - there is a well-organized resistance to the City adopting any plan that would set our local government on a path to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Certain business-oriented and special interest groups have focused criticism and negativity on specific aspects of plan strategies and encouraged people to oppose the plan because it represents “governmental interference.” The survey will be a major influence for Council members who will decide on adopting the plan before the end of the year, and the results matter.
If you want to do something about wildfire smoke, water conservation, waste, transportation, fossil fuel consumption, climate justice, food safety, the City needs to hear from you!
Here's another thing: the Plan only addresses high-level goals and strategies. It's not time to worry about how everything is going to get done. If adopted, the plan will require more assessment, prioritization, an implementation process, and ongoing monitoring. Don’t worry, the future will be the hard part. We're going to get there no matter what we do, but let's try to make it better.
If you want some suggestions for the survey comment sections, here are some examples of strategy statements from the plan:
Ensure new construction is as efficient as possible and fully reliant on renewable fuels (Building & Energy)
Advance land use planning to minimize vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and increase community resiliency (Transportation & Land Use)
Minimize food waste generated by residents and businesses (Waste Diversion and Material Conservation)
Establish diverse, "future climate"-adapted landscaping within the built environment (Natural Environment)
Increase household food security regionwide (Health & Wellbeing)
Here’s the link!: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YFNYGB2
Please forward this email to your own friends and networks. I strongly believe we need to push this effort hard. Thank you for your effort. Comments to this email are welcome - I can take it! I'm happy to talk, too.
In Gratitude and Hope,
- Ian Cunningham
You’ve probably heard or read something about the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan, the 82-page blueprint authored by a volunteer group of dedicated citizens that could possibly set us on a path toward adapting to climate change. The plan is a draft containing goals, strategies, and action ideas for meeting three major objectives:
95% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050 using a step approach, compared to 2016 levels (State mandate)
Build resiliency to ensure our neighborhoods and economy are ready for future challenges
Prioritize those most exposed to health impact and economic downturns related to climate change
Over 40 people participating in drafting the SAS proposal. The SAP was posted on the City website in April, launching a five-month public comment period which ends this month. The SAS plan proposal will be edited and refined before submitting to the Council in September or October.