Thoughts from Bill Kucha:
Lincoln County, Lincoln City, and Newport should all adopt climate action plans
Why should the residents of Lincoln County develop climate action plans? In 2017, there were more than 2,000 fires and in 2018 1,880 total fires that burned 665,000 acres and 846,611 acres respectively in Oregon. Federal and state governments spent $454 million and $514 million on wildfire suppression costs in 2017 and 2018 respectfully, according to data from the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
Climate change is increasingly becoming more financially expensive in Oregon and throughout the planet. Forest fires are only one part of the ecological and economic impacts of climate change. Ocean acidification and hypoxia will have profound impacts to our local Oregon coast.
For the most part, Lincoln County residents agree that climate change is real although there are disagreements about what steps should be taken to address the problem. Here are just a few of the issues that a climate action plan should address.
1) How will Lincoln County address increasing numbers of people moving to the central Oregon coast to escape the global and regional heat?
2) How will Lincoln County address likely water shortages during summer drought seasons?
3) How will Lincoln County address the possibility of wildfires sweeping through unincorporated areas such as Otis and smaller towns such as Siletz?
4) What will happen to the fishing industry with increasing ocean acidification and hypoxia?
5) What meaningful steps can Lincoln County residents and businesses take to reduce carbon pollution?
6) What can be done in the public and private forests in Lincoln County to increase carbon sequestration?
7) What can be done to strengthen the local economy with a shift to low-carbon patterns of transportation, buildings, and consumption?
8) How can communities build resilience in the face of climate change and adapt to it?
The Oregon State Legislature, through the hard work of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, is developing a legislative bill entitled HB 2020. This “cap and invest” bill will place a tax on carbon likely starting around $16 per ton with the tax increasing by $10 per ton per year. (This tax will translate into approximately a one cent increase in the cost of gasoline for each dollar of carbon tax increase). There will be approximately $300 million plus for transportation development and $200 million for education, impacted rural communities and other social programs generated from the carbon tax.
Counties and communities that have identified climate related projects will be much more likely to receive funding from the carbon pollution funds. Climate action plans can serve a number of purposes such as addressing the economic and environmental impacts of climate change as well as improving the chances of Lincoln County and its cities and towns receiving additional funds. Both Lincoln County and the cities of Newport and Lincoln City are developing their 2019-2020 annual budgets right now. The county and cities should be encouraged to each set aside $50,000 in funding to start the development of climate action plans as a financial investment.
– Bill Kucha