The Rising Costs to Live Here: Bellingham City Council Passes Climate Action Plan Update

In Common Voices, Local Government, News, Wake Up Whatcom by commonnw

On Monday evening, March 26, the Bellingham City Council passed Agenda Bill 21905, a resolution to enact an updated 119-page City of Bellingham Climate Protection Action Plan. Among other provisions, the plan policy would impose serious future limitations on use of fossil fuels. Reconsideration of a companion proposal for a task force to establish the extent to which it is actually possible to limit fossil fuel use was deferred until April 23, 2018. On Tuesday, March 27th, the BIAWC issued a report summarizing the Monday evening City Council meeting. Government Affairs Director Linda Twitchell’s timely and well-written summary included an informative overview of the Council’s action taken on the City’s climate plan.

During yesterday’s County Council committee meetings, I had a chance to ask Linda whether she would mind if Common Threads NW published the portion of her report dealing with the city’s climate agenda. Provided we include attribution to the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County, courtesy Linda Twitchell, Government Affairs Director, she was amenable to my request.

If you had not seen this monstrosity before (the “Climate Action Protection Plan”), take one quick look and I think you will agree that it would be a serious understatement to call it anything but “over the top.” I have a PDF document containing the comment/critique letter that BIAWC President Chris Knudsen submitted for the public record, however I could not locate the public comments on the City’s webpages to provide a link. In the BIAWC’s letter, Knudsen points out some potential unintended consequences of these proposed policies. Unless the projected costs are shown to be affordable to a Bellingham resident earning Bellingham’s average income our housing affordability crisis could be exacerbated.

The “war on fossil fuels” and “housing affordability” have been two issues that Common Threads NW has been featuring from the beginning, thus the thoughts.

BIAWC Comment Letter: 2018-0326_COB Council passes Climate Action Plan

Bellingham City Council Passes Climate Action Plan update

Excerpt reprinted by permission, Building Industry Association, Linda Twitchell / March 27, 2018

“…….Monday night, the Bellingham City Council passed a Climate Action Plan update, (Agenda Bill 21905), an energy policy advocating serious future limitations on use of fossil fuels, without the associated proposal for a task force to consider the extent to which it’s actually possible to limit fossil fuel use.  Creation of such a task force will be considered later.”

To many this seems backward, and BIAWC’s letter of 3/22/18 to City Council may be found in the public record to support the criticism.

“….But, according to Council member Pinky Vargas, speaking at Monday’s afternoon Committee of the Whole meeting, people on all sides of this debate misunderstood what she intended.  So she offered three options, and Council took door number 2 – pass the Climate Action Plan update (not attached to Monday’s agenda) and send the task force proposal back to committee.  One of Pinky’s main points is that the proposal involves goals, not mandates.  Some of us are skeptical about officially stated goals remaining “only goals.”  But that’s what we now have. To see the Climate Action Plan update, click here.

The proposal that was on the table Monday advocates 100% renewable electricity, transportation and heating by 2035.  Local utilities estimate it would cost consumers $2 billion more than other planned energy investments, create serious reliability issues, and is not technologically achievable.  If use of natural gas were prohibited, members have also raised questions about what residents with gas appliances are supposed to do.

We’re told that supporters packed the council chambers Monday night with green cards that read 100% clean energy.

Send your comments to City Council at .

Creation of a community task force to “…determine the feasibility, costs and impacts of the 100% energy ambitions,” will be reconsidered April 23, according to the Council office) by the Committee of the Whole…….”

Linda Twitchell
Government Affairs Director
Building Industry Association of Whatcom County
1650 Baker Creek Place
Bellingham, WA 98226
360.671.4247 (ph)