Hopefully, tomorrow the Salem City Council will take a big environmental step forward by approving $50,000 in the FY 2020 budget (begins on July 1, 2019) to start work on a climate action plan.
The $50,000 was discussed at length at the council's June 10 meeting. Councilor Tom Andersen made a motion to amend the proposed FY 2020 budget to include what amounts to a down payment on a full climate action plan, since $50,000 apparently wouldn't be enough to complete the plan.
Draft minutes of the June 10 meeting show a curious division of votes on Andersen's motion.
Four of the six progressive councilors voted for the climate action plan money, as did Mayor Bennett. But Councilors Cook and Leung, who are considered to be part of the progressive majority, joined the most conservative councilors -- Nanke and Lewis -- in opposition.
If somehow the $50,000 isn't approved at the June 24 council meeting, which could happen if Mayor Bennett changed his vote from Aye to Nay, I can guarantee that a lot of environmental advocates in Salem are going to be deeply irritated at any progressives who voted to deny the climate action plan money.
After all, every other major city in Oregon has either completed a climate action plan or has a plan underway.
Our planet is warming at an increasingly dangerous rate. The Trump administration has rolled back Obama-era actions to reduce carbon pollution. At the moment a walkout of Senate Republicans has delayed passage of the Oregon Clean Jobs bill (cap and trade) in the state legislature.
Salem needs to step up and do our part to keep the Earth suitable for human habitation.
It's hard to understand why adding $50,000 to the FY 2020 budget to begin work on a climate action plan is at all controversial. The only reason I can think of why someone would oppose this is that they deny the science of human-caused global warming, which is undeniable.
Since I doubt councilors Cook and Leung are global warming deniers, I'm guessing they had a reason to vote against the $50,000 at the June 10 meeting that I can't think of. I watched much of the debate on the climate action plan via a CCTV feed, but missed the vote. Maybe Cook and Leung explained their Nays just before the vote.
At any rate, it's good to see that the $50,000 is part of the amendments to the budget that will be voted on tomorrow.
I'm mildly concerned that this budget item is called "Climate Action" rather than "Climate Action Plan," since previously City Manager Steve Powers wrongly claimed that the money was intended to go for tree plantings and such, rather than a climate action plan, which was a blatant lie.
But the June 10 draft minutes make it crystal clear that Councilor Andersen's motion was to begin work on a climate action plan, and not to engage in other activities related to the environment.