Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Hazy Skies and Unsettled Weather at the MPO: Intransigence on Goal 7

On its one year anniversary yesterday, the Eclipse was in the news again.

What if we had still had smoky, crappy air? - via Twitter
But what might we have missed? We were lucky!

The Directors of three State agencies, DEQ, DLCD, and Energy recently sent to ODOT's board, the OTC, a letter on greenhouse gases and transportation.

They write:
According to the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s 2017 Biennial Report to the Legislature, Oregon will not meet the Legislature’s 2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction (ten percent below 1990 levels). We also are not on track for the Legislature’s 2035 and 2050 goals. With greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector increasing (rather than decreasing), and with transportation responsible for 39 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, it’s clear we need renewed focus on reducing emissions in this sector.
At last month's meeting of our Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Policy Committee endured a different smoke-blowing from members who insisted that "SKATS' focus is transportation not the environment" - notwithstanding clear Legislative direction to reduce emissions in the transportation sector.

The result seemed to be a weasely version of Goal 7 that makes no specific reference to greenhouse gas emissions, and merely adds an "explanatory statement" that project evaluation "may include" things like greenhouse gas emissions. As a goal, it's all very optional, hardly a goal at all - a fig leaf.

SKATS meets next week on Tuesday, and there may be more to say on Sunday or Monday about other agenda items. Adoption of any language for Goal 7 appears to be in a holding pattern and no formal action is on the agenda. The minutes are a little murky on when any language might be formally adopted. The "consensus" referenced in the minutes appears to be an informal one, not one fully voted in, and they express hopes that the City of Salem will cave and accept the watered down language.

1 comment:

Jim Scheppke said...

I sure hope the Salem City Council does not "cave" to Sam Brentano, a climate change denier like the current occupant of the White House. But another point to be made here is that the use of the word "consensus" to describe the adopted decision-making process at SKATS is incorrect. It should be called "unanimous consent" which is a very different thing from consensus. I agree with Councilor Lewis that this process should be changed. SKATS should operate on a "majority rules" basis like other decision-making boards do, and votes should be allocated in proportion to the size and importance of the local government being represented. For example it would not be right for the City of Salem to have one vote, and the City of Turner to have one vote. I hope they do find a better way in the future.