In the news
Climate Change is Here!
November 7, 2021
The Dixie Fire, Texas Cold Wave, and Hurricane Ida are among 18 separate climate disasters this year that have cost at least $1 billion each, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
With world leaders meeting in Glasgow to develop a global strategy, and research reported in Nature Energy suggesting that half the world’s fossil fuel assets could be worthless by 2036, now is the time to embrace a carbon-free future. Each of us has an important individual role to play in order to protect our children and grandchildren from the catastrophic impacts of a climate system running out of control. Here are some specific actions everyone can take.
And every community must do its part as well. Here in Columbia, MO, we made an excellent start in 2019 when the City Council adopted our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan which sets specific goals in the areas of energy, housing, transportation, health and safety, natural resources, and waste. However, we need to follow through on those recommendations and become carbon-neutral as quickly as possible – here are three key strategies I believe the City of Columbia should consider:
- Shift the electric utility to 100% renewable energy by 2030
In response to the original, voter-initiated ordinance of 2004, Columbia Water and Light has grown its renewable energy portfolio to about 15%, and is currently required to reach 25% by 2022 and 30% by 2028.
However, new scientific information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demonstrates the urgent need to accelerate the transition. The City’s Integrated Electric Resource and Master Plan Task Force is now asking the City Council "pursue a revision or replacement of the Renewable Energy Ordinance, setting a date for the utility to achieve 100% Renewable Energy by the earliest practical date," and the Climate and Environment Commission recommends a goal of achieving "100% clean, renewable energy for electricity by 2030."
- Throw out the CATSO Long-Range Transportation Plan and start over
As I discussed in a previous newsletter, Columbia’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is a relic of the failed post-war economic growth strategy of using public funds to expand highway systems into rural areas and thereby subsidize private development. In addition to being a deeply inequitable and unsustainable Ponzi Scheme, this system (funded with tens of millions of federal dollars annually) has made our community utterly dependent on personal automobiles, and undermined efforts to reduce transportation emissions by increasing walking, biking and public transit use.
The current version of the LRTP allocates more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the next 30 years to build or widen highways on the edge of town. It is very important that CATSO (the Columbia Area Transportation Study Organization, consisting mainly of City, County, and MoDOT planners and engineers who are effectively unaccountable to voters) changes course.
- No more annexations or sewer connections outside City limits
Closely linked with Columbia’s expansionist transportation policy, our approach to growth (which emphasizes extending sewers and annexing rural/agricultural land for low-density development) also drives up carbon emissions.
Resilient communities of the future will consist of compact, mixed-use neighborhoods within which residents can complete most of their activities of daily living, without the need for excessive daily travel or maintenance of massive public infrastructure systems. Columbia should adopt policy which leads to this form of community design.
Please let me know your thoughts on these proposals.
Hindman Junction Unveiling and Ribbon-Cutting
Twenty-five years ago, the intersection of the MKT and Katy Trails near McBaine, MO was officially named "Hindman Junction" by Gov. Mel Carnahan, to recognize Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman's role in creating the two trails. However, the tens of thousands of bikers and hikers passing through Hindman Junction every year had no way of knowing who he was or what he did - until recently.
The compelling stories of those campaigns (one in the mid-1980s and the other around 1990) are now told on two new informational panels which were paid for by private donations and installed last week by the Columbia Convention and Visitors' Bureau. A public unveiling and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held next Friday, November 12th at 11:00 am, including speeches by former State Representative Chris Kelly and former Boone County Commissioner Don Stamper, both of whom worked closely with Hindman to bring the vision of these trails to reality.
I hope you are able to attend and, if you’d like to join a group bike ride out there, several of us will be gathering at the Forum Trailhead at 10:00 am.
My next Constituent Conversations Online will take place on Sunday, December 5th from 2-4 p.m. Here are the video conference/dial-in links:
Zoom Meeting https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87445168228 or phone 1-312-626-6799, Meeting ID: 874-4516-8228
Upcoming dates are always available at my web site.