City of Hood River: Mayor asks Rep. Walden to ‘join our collective call’ on energy

This is the text of a letter from Hood River Mayor Paul Blackburn to Rep. Greg Walden of the U.S. House Second District sent Aug. 4.

The Hood River City Council would like to bring you up to speed related to the Hood River Energy Plan, currently being developed as a collaboration of seven local partners including the City of Hood River, the County of Hood River, the City of Cascade Locks, the Port of Cascade Locks, the Port of Hood River, Energy Trust of Oregon, and the Ford Family Foundation. The draft plan, which is under development and has not yet been adopted, sets a county-wide goal to generate 50 percent of the county’s energy needs from new, local diversified clean energy sources and storage capacity by 2050. It will also step up our counties ability to handle a natural disaster such as the Cascadia subduction, when that occurs.

Given this community’s efforts to encourage clean energy and curb carbon emissions, we were extremely disappointed when President Trump in May decided to exit the Paris Agreement. Your statement following that decision also disappointed us. We need and ask our representatives here, in Salem, and in Washington, D.C., to support our efforts and help protect the livelihoods of the farmers, ranchers, natural resource managers, outdoor recreation industry businesses, and all residents who are already being impacted by climate change and are subject to higher risks in the future. As the head of the Energy and Commerce Committee, you play a key role in helping ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.

We request that you join us, your home community, as we become a leader among rural communities in encouraging and enacting projects related to energy efficiency and renewable energy development. At the local level, joining our collective call for action would be powerful and helpful. Equally important, in Washington, D.C., is help ensuring that our local renewable energy efforts are aided by the regulatory and funding solutions.

I, and other community leaders working on the Hood River Energy Plan, would welcome a meeting with you the next time you are in Hood River.

Hood River Energy Plan summary

The Hood River Energy Plan creates a blueprint to help our community increase investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, achieve energy generation control, stability and price security, and provide key services in the event of an emergency. This effort has been made possible by the hiring of a Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps intern (a graduate-level student), who is working closely with local elected officials and under the supervision of the Hood River County Planning Director. Many of our local agencies, along with the Hood River County School District, the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, and other public and private entities, have made smart investments in clean energy technology and infrastructure. The Hood River Middle School has the first public school building in the United States to be net-zero energy certified. The Parks District solar water system at the pool was the largest grant funded project of its kind in state history. The Tofurky manufacturing plant at the port is one of the few LEED Platinum-certified food manufacturing facilities in the world. And the Hood River public works building’s new rooftop solar project will be one of the first community-owned renewable energy projects in the state.

As a city council, we know that climate change is a crisis demanding immediate action to reduce its negative effects. We believe that climate change is a threat to public health, national security, food security, business supply chains, and quality of life both locally and nationally. These have costs to our society that are not reflected in the price of fossil fuels.

To respond to this crisis, we believe energy efficiency and renewable energy development are critical not only for reducing climate change, but for reducing energy costs and increasing our resilience to rising energy costs. As a city, we will continue to support climate actions in support of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. In addition, nations — inspired by the actions of local and regional governments, along with businesses — came to recognize that fighting climate change brings significant economic and public health benefits.

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