Spokane-Climate Change and Resiliency
And the Disingenuous Republican Attack on the Effort to Address the Issues
This coming Monday the City Council of the City of Spokane is scheduled to vote to accept (or not) the Sustainability Action Plan (SAP). The City Council listens to thirteen official committees that advise and inform the City Council and the Mayor. The Sustainability Action SubCommittee (SAS) falls under one of those committees (specifically it falls under the Public Infrastructure, Environment, and Sustainability Committee). The SAS is responsible for updating the 2009 Spokane Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) in view of accumulating data updates and increasingly obvious threats from climate change (among them wildfires and associated air pollution). For nearly three years more than forty citizen volunteers serving on the Sustainability Action SubCommittee have worked to produce this updated Sustainability Action Plan to be presented for a vote at Monday’s Council meeting. The primary goal of the Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) is to help us address climate change challenges at the local level.
This is the way government moves forward. Without detailed, high-level plans like the SAP, government is reactive, not proactive, in response to threat to the city and its citizens.
Reading the Sustainability Action Plan is not like reading a novel—but getting acquainted with its contours is a valuable civic exercise. Click here to read a one page summary. Click here to see (and read or skim) the entire Plan. Or scroll down to the video embedded below (24 minutes long). The really short summary is this: The SAP offers a blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050 while protecting those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the process. A high-level plan like this is essential to achieving those goals.
Of course, for those who deny climate change (and/or deny that greenhouse gases are the driver of global warming) the Sustainability Action Plan is unnecessary and the actions recommended are a waste of money and effort. Understanding that their denialist convictions are a minority opinion, none of these predominantly Republican politicos are willing to lead with their climate change denial. Instead, in response to a direct questions they pivot to the details and focus attention there. Witness McMorris Rodgers’ instant pivot to the importance of dams and hydropower every time climate change is mentioned.
In a recent League of Women Voters debate (at 19:21 minutes) between candidates for Spokane City Council in District 1 (NE), Jonathan Bingle, a far right Republican running in a “non-partisan” race, fields a question about the Sustainability Action Plan by obfuscating. He mouths phrases “big issues of our time…green…healthy earth…” to suggest that he is on board with the effort to address climate change—and immediately pivots to protecting the Spokane River. Is his idea of addressing climate change and environmental degradation litter pickup? Then he focuses on the SAP with a what is either a baldfaced lie or total ignorance. He claims that proponents of the SAP wanted to “ban natural gas” and that the plan will inevitably increase the cost of utilities. This is local Republican propaganda designed to instill fear and unease. The actual proposal in the SAP (since removed) was to not add natural gas infrastructure in new construction. When you find yourself in a hole, it seems reasonable to suggest that you quit digging. On his WeBelieveWeVote Survey (item #11) he goes further to reject the Sustainability Action Plan because he objects to its “Equity” statement. That certainly doesn’t bode well for the likelihood of his having empathy for any of his constituents. The other Republican candidate for a seat on the Spokane City Council (District 3 [NW]), Mike Lish, is 100% in agreement with WBWV’s trashing of the SAP. Neither of these climate denying Republicans deserves your vote.
But back to the City Council vote coming up on Monday: The City Council members need to hear from constituents concerned with climate change. They need to know that people are aware of the importance of the Sustainability Action Plan and endorse the adoption of this update to the Plan. Here’s the link to all the contact information you might need to send a short email to the Council as a whole or to individual members:
Even simpler, 350 Spokane, a local group dedicated to addressing the issue of climate change, has put together an easy-to-use form for contacting City Council members about supporting the SAP.1 Here’s the link to 350 Spokane’s form:
Contact the City Council today by one method or another. Then support Naghmana Sherazi for District 1 (NE) City Council and Zack Zappone for District 3 (NW).
Keep to the high ground,
Using 350 Spokane’s form probably entails receiving subsequent email from them. That’s not a bad thing either, but if you don’t want to receive such emails there is an opt-out method at the very bottom of those email. Such an opt-out is required of emails from legitimate individuals and groups like 350, by law.