I would begin by carefully evaluating the data from studies that have been relied upon to date and data related to potential mitigations of the emission of green-house gasses from the County. Based on the data related to the effectiveness of certain measures, I would look at opportunities for the County, in a cost efficient manner, to implement them. Cost effective would include using the correct, but lowest cost option (if more than one exists) and also primarily focusing on implementing any measures only during acquisition, construction, development and/or renovation of County structures and real property. I would be opposed to the County becoming involved in supporting, or worse yet mandating any climate change activities for individual citizens.
Last year the state Department of Ecology conducted a study and published an Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy. This publication includes strategies for infrastructure and communities, health and security, and ecosystems. As a member of the council, I think it would be time well spent to convene a group of individuals from the planning department, the sheriff’s office, the various heads from fire and rescue, concerned citizens and qualified county experts to review the Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy, focusing specifically on islands and coastal areas to determine our own strategic response plan.
To prepare for climate change, the county needs to have strong emergency management procedures so that citizens can have food, shelter and medical care during strong weather events. In addition, the county needs to do its part to reduce its carbon footprint by moving towards non-carbon-based sources of energy and improving the energy efficiency of its buildings.
First of all there are steps the Council can take to provide leadership in reducing San Juan County’s carbon footprint. The 2008 Climate Change Resolution (Resolution 8-2008) should be reviewed and updated as needed.
I would ask the Public Works Department, Department of Emergency Management, and the WA State Department of Transportation to provide reports and plans for potential impacts to shoreline infrastructure from sea level rise and increased storm surges.
I have provided proactive leadership in drafting the Gateway Pacific coal terminal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping letters that asked for the potential impacts of climate change related to the coal transport and burning be included and addressed in the EIS.
I am also interested in understanding how ocean acidification is affecting the marine life in San Juan County and the many marine based jobs that are important to our local economy.
We have a lot of local issues before us. We need to be aware of issues that will affect our climate: shipping of coal through our waters, for example. Every citizen needs to do his or her part in conserving, using green products, and being aware of what we put into our atmosphere. County government can only do so much.