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Bend Climate Action Resolution

Russ Donnelly, Mike Riley, Skylar Grayson, Nikki Roemmer at City Council 051816September 8, 2016: WE DID IT!

Last night, the Bend City Council adopted a climate action resolution by a vote of 5 to 2. Councilors Victor Chudowsky and Casey Roats voted against the resolution.

The adopted resolution is more aspirational than the ordinance we proposed last May. But it also lays out a clear pathway for Bend to move forward on reducing GHG emissions.

A big thank you to all the citizens and businesses who supported our months-long effort to get this resolution passed. It would not have passed without your support.

A big thank you to the members of the Climate Ordinance Working Group who spent the last 15 months thinking, researching, debating, proposing, organizing and advocating. Russ Donnelly, Joe Emerson, Skylar Grayson, Diane Hodiak, Sara Holman, Mary Fay, Jeanine Florance, Kyra Kadham, Theil Larsen, Brad Lemmon, Bob Lorenzen, Jeffrey Richardson, Nikki Roemmer, and Helen Seidler: You made this happen.

A big thank you to our Bend City Councilors—all seven of them—for their considerable time and attention, and for their thoughtful, principled and spirited deliberation, of this important issue. Your combined efforts made for a strong final product.

And finally, a HUGE thank you to the five Bend City Councilors who voted “Yes!”: Councilors Doug Knight, Sally Russell, Barb Campbell, Nathan Boddie and Jim Clinton. Your votes made this real.

This resolution will move Bend in the right direction when it comes to reducing GHG emissions. It will help the City reduce costs, save money and design a much more livable community. And it will ensure that Bend does its part to protect our climate.

And that’s an important step in the right direction, for people and the planet.

September 6, 2016: City Council to Vote on Climate Action Resolution Tomorrow, September 7


Tomorrow, September, 7, at 7 pm, the Bend City Council will vote on a Bend Climate Action Resolution that will commit Bend to do its’ part to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ve been working on this for over a year.  Now that the vote is upon us, we need your help one more time to finally get this resolution passed.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Send an email to the full City Council at council@bendoregon.gov telling them you support the resolution and that you urge them to vote “Yes!”.
  • Attend the meeting to show your support.
    • Show your support by showing up and wearing green.  You don’t have to speak, unless you really want to.
    • If you do want to speak, be sure to arrive by 6:50 so you can sign up (forms by the door to the City Council’s chambers).  Keep your message simple—I support the climate resolution because (fill in the blank). Please pass the resolution.”  Public testimony will start about 7:30.

Background on the Final Draft Resolution

The final draft resolution, as well as an issue summary about it, is available here, as part of the agenda for the September 7 Council meeting. Scroll down to the section on the resolution. The issue summary provides a good overview of how the Council got to this point and this draft.

As you know, back in May a group of environmental organizations and local activists proposed an ordinance.  But the reaction from some on the Council and some in the business community was very unfavorable to an ordinance, primarily because they felt that it was too strong-handed and they worried about enforcement and what that might mean to businesses.  So we ended up with a resolution that is more aspirational but still lays out a clear and detailed pathway for Bend to move forward.

The final draft resolution includes all of the core principles that the environmental community has advocated for since last May, which include that it:

  • Be grounded in science and the scientific consensus that climate change is real and largely human caused;
  • Set greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and fossil fuel reduction goals for City operations/facilities AND for the community as a whole;
  • Set timelines for adopting climate action plans (2 years for City, 3 years for the community);
  • Establish a robust public involvement process in developing those action plans, including business involvement;
  • Create a City program and hire staff dedicated to implementing the action plans; and
  • Conduct periodic reporting about progress towards meeting the established goals.

Finally, the draft resolution commits the City to taking near-term actions to reduce energy use, increase the efficiency of its vehicle fleet and convert the fleet to cleaner fuels, and to reduce vehicle miles traveled through transportation planning and investments in transit and in safety to encourage biking and walking.

So, all in all we have made very important progress–this resolution will, if passed, move Bend in the right direction when it comes to climate action.  And it will help the City save money and design a much more livable community.

August 16, 2016: The Latest Update, Vote Scheduled for September 7

The Bend City Council had a long and substantive discussion about the climate action resolution at their meeting on August 3.

Mayor Clinton led the Council through a series of questions about the core ideas in the resolution. Although Councilors did not agree on every detail, there appeared to be consensus that Bend should take meaningful action, that we should set goals for City operations and the community at large, and that action should occur sooner rather than later and be guided by action plans. The Mayor plans to call a vote on a final draft of the resolution on September 7.

Once again, a big thank you to the City Council for their time and attention to this resolution. It looks like they will soon vote on a resolution that reflects the core principles we have advocated for since May 18. Our advocacy work is paying off – thanks for your help!

But our work is not quite done. We’ll need to make one more strong statement to the Council. So save this date on your calendar:

What: City Council Meeting (wear green to show your support for a strong resolution)

Why: Vote on Climate Action Resolution

When: Wednesday, September 7 @ 7 pm

Where: City Council Chambers, 700 NW Wall St.

Keep checking back on our web site or Facebook page for more updates as we get closer to September 7. Once we see the final draft resolution (it’s not yet been released to the general public), we’ll let you know what we think about it.

July 5, 2016: Bend Climate Action Ordinance (Now Resolution)

The Good News: The Bend City Council took our proposal for a Bend Climate Action Ordinance very seriously. They listened to us and other supporters, they sought input from the business community, and they set up a subcommittee to work the issue and come back to the whole Council with a recommendation on how to proceed.

The Not So Good News: The subcommittee’s proposed a resolution on June 15 that does not include some elements that are key to effective and meaningful climate action in Bend.

First, the question of an ordinance or a resolution. Without getting too legalistic, ordinances are law, generally enforceable (conceptually anyway), and are taken seriously. Resolutions are not as binding and not always taken as seriously. We still prefer an ordinance, not because we want to establish “climate police” but because we think an ordinance would establish clear and strong policy direction for the City and community and thus set Bend on a path for effective climate action.  It’s also true that many other model communities have used a resolution as their first step in defining their path forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So if our City Council thinks a resolution is what’s needed to build support from the business community and ensure successful implementation, we can live with that if several important changes are made.

Which brings me to the three things that need to be fixed in the Council’s draft resolution.

1. The goal we proposed for the community—reduce fossil fuels use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050, based on the best available science—has been removed from the draft resolution. It needs to be in the adopted resolution.

The draft resolution includes only a goal for City of Bend business operations. An effective and meaningful resolution must also include a communitywide goal.  Why? Because it’s very likely that City of Bend’s operations are less than 5% of our community’s total emissions. A goal for only City operations is tinkering at the margins. The adopted resolution should set Bend on a trajectory to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and that means addressing community-wide emissions.

2. The timelines for recommending and adopting the Climate Action Plans to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals are too squishy. The adopted resolution should have specific dates by which the CAPS are adopted: two years for City operation and three years for the community.

An effective and meaningful resolution must include specific deadlines for completing the Climate Action Plans. Why? Because developing and implementing Climate Action Plans (CAPs) are the heart of climate action and time is of the essence if we want to make a difference.

3. The draft resolution calls for “cost-benefit analysis” that, if interpreted traditionally, will look only at economic and financial concerns when evaluating greenhouse gas emissions strategies. The adopted resolution should state clearly that social and environmental concerns will also be considered in the cost-benefit analysis.

We support including language about cost-benefit analysis. But we want to make sure that financial costs/benefits are not the only factors considered, which is the traditional approach to cost-benefit analysis. Social and environmental concerns should also be considered to ensure the analysis is done within a broader sustainability framework. We got into this mess by only paying attention to financial and economic concerns; we won’t get out of it unless we change our approach.

And that brings me to you—how can you make a difference?

The other great thing the City Council did is set up a special meeting to hear from the community just about this issue. We respect and appreciate that—Councilors have a lot on their plates, not to mention their work and personal lives.

So now we, the supporters of meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Bend, need to show up and tell them what we think. After some presentations by the environmental and business communities, we each get up to three minutes to say speak our minds.

Tell the City Council that you support a strong resolution that sets Bend on a path for meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tell them that a resolution that does that should include:

  • A goal for the community as a whole—reduce fossil fuels use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050—not just for City operations.
  • Firm deadlines for adopting Climate Action Plans: two years for City operations and three years for the community as whole; and
  • A cost benefit analysis that looks at financial, social and environmental concerns.

P.S. And by the way, if you can’t make the July 21 meeting, you can send an email to the Council at council@bendoregon.gov.

P.P.S. And have you signed one of our online petitions yet?  If not, please do so now, even if you plan to come to the meeting on July 21.  Click here to sign the petition for individuals and click here to sign the petition for businesses.


Mike Riley
The Environmental Center
mike@envirocenter.org, 541-385-6908

Nikki Roemmer
Oregon League of Conservation Voters, www.olcv.org
nikki@olcv.org, 541-241-4762

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