Bend council gathers input on climate action policy

Testimony split on proposed city government goals

Special session on climate action policy

BEND, Ore. - A packed room in Bend's City Hall Thursday showed how much the community cares about whether or not a city climate action plan is a step forward.

Business leaders objected earlier this year when an ordinance was proposed to spell out community-wide goals reducing carbon emissions. The proposal was revised to focus solely on setting goals to make city government carbon neutral, but the debate continues, as to whether it should be a higher (or lower) priority for the city.

The special meeting was called to lay out the details of a proposed resolution and gather feedback.

"Well, we felt like the business community hadn't been brought to the table as part of the discussion," said Erich Schultz. "We felt like this was being rushed through, and we felt like it needed to be prioritized with all of the other things that the city has going on right now, including street repairs, and accessibility issues and that sort of a thing."

Schultz was on the business panel and represented the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board.

"We're not opposed to taking action to improve the climate whatsoever. We just kind of feel like we've been ignored," Schultz said.

He said BEDAB only learned about the original ordinance a day before the council took it up.

Skylar Grayson was on the environmental panel,and said they want this to be a collaborative process.

"In what we proposed on the steering committee, it brought all the different factions of Bend together. So that includes the business, the scientists, the education and youth," Grayson said.

While the proposal is scaled back to only focus on city operations, Grayson said she'd like to see more addressed.

"The community goals of a 40 percent reduction of fossil fuel use by 2030, and a 70 percent by 2050" are good, she said, adding she'd also like to see strict timetables for the goals, something not in the policy at present.

After hearing hours of discussion and opinions city councilors will review the input, and discuss at an upcoming meeting how to proceed on the proposed climate action policy.

Review the proposed resolution (PDF) here.

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