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Split Bend council moves forward with climate change discussion


According to local climate change advocates, action is needed to address climate change in Bend. They say if we don’t act now the city may reach a point of no turning back.

At Wednesday night’s Bend City Council meeting, councilors took up the controversial issue at their work session and reviewed a climate change proposal. In the end, only a slim majority agreed to form a steering committee to keep working on the proposed goals.

Councilors heard from Mike Riley of The Environmental Center, Nikki Roemmer of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Skylar Grayson of Youth Climate Action Now.

Councilors were divided, but those in favor argued that other cities like Ashland, Portland and Eugene already have adopted similar proposals.

Bend resident Bob Lorenzen said he worries that his 2-year-old granddaughter wont be able to grow up and enjoy skiing at Mt. Bachelor, due to climate change.

City Councilor Nathan Boddie, a supporter of the proposed ordinance, agreed with that view: “Its important to any city, but its especially important to Bend, because we rely so much on our winter recreation.”

The draft ordinance aims to help stabilize the climate by committing to specific greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

If a planned steering committee and the city agree, by 2030 businesses, government, and individuals living or working in bend would seek to reduce fossil fuel use by 40 percent, and by 2050 the city would reduce fossil fuel use by 70 percent.

Mayor Jim Clinton joined Boddie, Doug Knight and Barb Campbell in agreeing to proceed. But colleague Victor Chudowsky, Sally Russell and Casey Roats didn’t support it, raising a variety of unresolved issues.

Opposing business groups and councilors like Chudowsky say it’s not known if the goals are attainable – or what they might cost.

But Boddie said they focus on incentives, not punishment. He said the proposed ordinance will help make Bend economically stronger, more sustainable and more livable for future generations to enjoy.

The city council will establish a steering committee to help review the proposal and outline how they can be implemented, so the debate is far from over with many details to be fleshed out in coming months.

With a group of young people very involved in the climate change effort, Campbell drew some applause by saying she wants to be sure at least one steering committee member is 18 or younger.

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