Going green in Washington County

By Nick Engelfried of Hillsboro, Oregon. Nick is a junior at Pacific University and describes himself as a "citizen activist particularly concerned about global warming, who helped pass a resolution on climate change in the City of Hillsboro last spring."

A recent study by pollster Adam Davis suggests citizens of Washington County more and more frequently have the environment in mind.

When it comes to issues like transportation projects and new roads, the possible contribution to global warming is now a serious consideration. "Standing on their own," writes Kurt Eckert of the Hillsboro Argus, "green living and global warming barely register [as important issues in polls], but when people are given options, they nearly always choose the more environmentally responsible choice."

Don't get your hopes up too much -- but Washington County may finally be going green.

To this trend in the polls, add the fact that several citizen organizations including Washington County Peak Oil, the Oregon Sierra Club, and student environmental groups are pressuring the Washington County Board of Commissioners to take a firmer stance against climate change; it's not hard to see why the Board is slowly warming to sustainability.

Last September, citizen groups began asking the Board of Commissioners to pass the Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration -- an agreement to cut greenhouse emissions which is partly based on the wildly successful Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. When I myself first contacted the Board of Commissioners, I got very little response from anyone except Dick Schouten (far-and-away the most environmentally-minded member of the Board).

For a long time the other commissioners were silent on whether they would even seriously consider the Climate Stabilization Declaration - but that is slowly beginning to change. Commissioner Desari Strader has recently agreed to discuss the Declaration, though whether or not she intends to support it in a vote is still unclear. That leaves three commissioners: Roy Rogers, Andy Duyck, and Chair Tom Brian. If Strader supports the Declaration, we could be inching toward the majority of three needed to pass it. An online petition asks the Board to pass the Cool Counties Declaration. Sign it today.

Those of us working on climate change were recently reminded of the difficulties in going to the federal government for support: passage of a fairly pathetic energy bill and the EPA's refusal to let states regulate vehicle emissions draws attention to the fact that the Bush Administration is still standing in the way of progress. So as we have in the past, we are turning to local governments for help.

This month saw Oregon's first Local Climate Action Workshop, attended by representatives from major cities across the state. Now we need to get our county governments moving. In Washington County, in particular, there is potential for an impressive partnership between multiple local governments; the cities of Hillsboro and Beaverton have both pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions, and could work in conjunction with the county government if the Board of Commissioners makes a similar commitment. So let's keep our fingers crossed that signs of green thinking mean a permanent trend - not just a fad.

It's time Washington County got on board this movement in earnest.

Comments

  • jim karlock (unverified)
    (Show?)

    From the linked article: Board Chair Tom Brian wondered if there would be a backlash to the environmental movement when people realized its costs in the face of today's current economic anxiety. JK: How will this affect low income people?

    Nick Engelfried Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration -- an agreement to cut greenhouse emissions JK: How much will this cost each resident?

    Nick Engelfried which is partly based on the wildly successful Mayors Climate Protection Agreement JK: How do you measure the success? Did it make people’s life better? Did it save people money? Dit it reduce their commute time?

    PS: According to the world’s best historic climate data, which year was warmest: 1934 or 1998? Which is the most effective Greenhouse gas: CO2 or H2O? What percentage of total world CO2 emissions come from man and what percentage come from nature? Is arctic ice above or below average as of now?

    Thanks JK

  • Nick (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Hi JK:

    1) With energy costs soaring, we should be moving away from fossil fuels to protect low income people, even if it weren't for global warming.

    2) See above. Energy efficiency saves taxpayer money.

    3) Successful because it has encouraged a plethora of new projects to reduce greenhouse emissions.

    4) [Comment about 1994 vs 1998] See the deffinition of "trend," at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/trend

    5) CO2. But either way, we're releasing tons of new CO2 into the atmosphere every day. We're not releasing tons of new, permanent water vapor

    6) Natural CO2 has been cycled through the Earth's natural systems for millions of years, and keeps our planet from being as cold as, say, Mars. Natural CO2 is not the problem. The problems arises when we start burning tons of fossil fuels, releasing carbon that had previously been stored underground for millions of years.

    7) Below average, for this time of year (hello?? where have you been?)

    Hope this answers your questions.

    Final note: is it 100% certain that humans are causing global warming and that we need to take action to stop it? No - by conservative estimates by the world's leading climate scientists, it's at least 90% certain. If leading military experts said there was a 90% chance another country was about to bomb us with nuclear weapons, would you want prevantative action taken - or would wait until more evidence came in?

  • steven (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Nick, Thanks for the update about Washington County, and great job with the responsed to JK's questions!

  • Lance Kissler (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Great article Nick! Are you planning on attending the Focus the Nation event at Pacific Jan. 29-31? Hope to see you there!

  • Don Johnson (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Why are the icecaps melting on Mars? Is Haliburton on Mars burning oil. Also, the northern icecap is melting on Earth, but the Antarctic ice pack is at record levels. If anyone with a brain would look at this and other evidences they would see that the Earth has weather cycles. Al Gore is the High Priest of a new religion called global warming. By the way, his family got rich in the petroleum industry and now we have to pay carbon credits to a organization the Al Gore is involved with (so he is screwing us on both ends). We are so prosperous in this country that we have lots of free time. Some people use that time to fight for causes that make them feel better about themselves. We need to focus on important issues like defending our country and destroying the enemy that is within our gates (ie. illegal immigrants, corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle). If the temp outside was 70 degress during the winter than I might believe that there was a patern of global warming, but in case you haven't noticed, ITS COLD OUTSIDE. I have lived in Oregon my whole life and this is one of the coldest winters I can remember. Maybe when the next global cooling trend happens we will look back and wish the global warming crowd was right.

guest column

connect with blueoregon