Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Rewrite! With Monday's Council Action, Our Salem Should Formulate a new Preferred Alternative

On Monday afternoon, just hours before Council convened, the City announced a FAQ on Our Salem.

Considering the lead item, the absence of numerical greenhouse gas reduction goals, its timing was very strange. Knowing what was on the Council agenda for that evening, they might have waited until Tuesday or later this week.

Already out of date!

And, what do you know, Council adopted a goal of 50% reduction by 2035, exactly the horizon for the preferred alternative in Our Salem.

Our Salem models only an 18% reduction
for 2035, and we need something closer to 50%
Global Warming Commission and Our Salem
(Notes in green added)

The only problem is, the preferred alternative makes no change over current trends, and the current trend is for only an 18% reduction.

Our chapter has already called for Our Salem to hit "pause," to reassess, and to improve the plan for emissions reductions. We may not need a complete do-over, but we need a substantial revision in a v2.0. The draft preferred alternative is already obsolete.

The FAQ tries to preempt this a little, and explain why it's hard, especially on transportation. But of course, if it was easy, we would have been doing it already.

The FAQ on emissions and transportation

Above all, we have to face our structural incoherence, even contradiction: Congestion Relief or Emissions Reduction. We have to choose one basic frame for our transportation planning. We can make it easier to drive and encourage more driving, or we can prioritize reduced driving for lower emissions.

We have choose one of these frames
(front pages, June 2015 and June 2019)

Right now we have a real muddle in which we give lip service to both, but make no real effort on either. It's time to choose.

The FAQ equivocates on congestion
and false balance in "all modes matters"

Even if "congestion threatens Oregon economy" (and there are reasons to think this is overstated, especially when we factor in the costs of capacity expansion), how much more does climate threaten the economy? Just the wildfires last month have a substantial impact.

Personal and municipal costs

Agricultural costs

Now that Council has adopted a set of targets, Our Salem should retreat and regroup with a view towards significantly improving the draft proposal. Part of this will need to be more realism about congestion and the costs of prioritizing driving.

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