Truckee activists fight for climate policies
With the effects of climate change a growing concern among local environmental groups, Truckee activists have begun using their voice to influence local, state and national climate policies.
“We know that some global warming has taken place,” said Deirdre Henderson, founder of the North Tahoe chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, during a Mountain Minds Monday presentation this week. “We’re going to have to figure out how to adapt to what is inevitably going to happen even if we did everything right from now on.”
California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment stated that the Sierra Nevada snowpack would disappear below 6,000 feet elevation and be reduced by more than 60% across the entire range by the end of the 21st century if nothing is done to stop climate change.
According to a study in the Journal of Global Environmental Change, published in May 2017, climate change will drastically reduce the number of days ski resorts would be able to stay open. “None of our local ski resorts would be viable,” said Matt Tucker, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby liaison, to U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock.
Truckee is currently striving toward powering town facilities with 100% renewable electricity by 2020 with an 80 percent reduction in total community greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
“As focused as we are to converting our electrical grid to renewable energy, we’ve not made much progress on transportation and even less progress on heating homes and converting industries to clean energy,” said Tucker. “We really need a national policy to shift the entire economy away from fossil fuels.”
In April Truckee Town Council members agreed to stand behind the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act which will impose a fee on fossil fuels including crude oil, natural gas and coal at their source. The fee will start at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide and increase by $10 every year until greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 90%. The fees will then be deposited into a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund and used for administrative expenses and dividend payments to U.S. citizens.
According to the Citizens Climate Lobby, the organization who urged Truckee town council to endorse the legislation, it is estimated that the policy will reduce the nation’s emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years.
Over the last five years Truckee has spent around $16 million on sustainability projects. These included sidewalk improvements and the addition of bike lanes as well as energy efficiency projects.
Last year the town hired ARC Alternatives, a clean energy consulting firm, to determine potential upgrades the town could make. The firm set forth $300,000 worth of recommended energy efficiency projects including replacing the current exterior and interior lighting on town facilities and replacing older heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Their report suggested that the projects would save $36,000 per year on energy costs.
In past years the town has upgraded to LED lighting as opportunities have presented themselves through regular maintenance. The firm also found up to $4.8 million in potential solar generation projects at town sites including the corp yard, animal shelter, town hall, the train depot and the old corp yard.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.