NOTE: This news release has been retained for historical use ONLY! While the text was accurate at the date of the release, the contact information may be out of date.
Michaelanne Ehrenberg - (206)684-8808
Mayor Paul Schell and City Council
Adopt Major Environmental Commitment
to Clean Energy for Earth Day 2000
In a landmark commitment to environmental quality, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a proposal by Mayor Paul Schell and City Council member Heidi Wills to meet Seattle’s future electricity needs with no net emissions of "greenhouse gases."
In the resolution voted on today by the Council in recognition of Earth Day 2000, the Mayor and the Chair of the Council’s Energy Committee said they hoped that this commitment would challenge other communities to tackle global warming.
"Climate change is the world’s most urgent environmental challenge," said Mayor Paul Schell, "but it’s also very much a local issue. In Seattle, we can demonstrate that we take global warming seriously by ensuring that City Light provides clean electrical energy." City Light will meet the goal with energy conservation, relying on existing renewable hydropower and developing new renewables such as wind, geothermal, solar and landfill gas. If fossil fuel use is necessary, the City will offset the emissions through other measures such as forest protection.
The Earth Day resolution also marks the City’s major environmental accomplishments in other areas. "Seattle has a good news story when it comes to the environment," said Councilmember Wills. She cited several achievements including:
- Water conservation programs that have kept region wide consumption below 1980 levels despite a population increase of 25%
- Improvements in dam operations on the Skagit River that restored pink and chum salmon runs to among the healthiest in the region
- Recycling rates that surpass any other municipality in the world and that have saved the City and residents more than $12 million since1987
- Energy conservation measures that have saved enough energy to power one out of every eight Seattle homes.
"The City and the people who live here continue to be recognized nationally and even internationally as excellent environmental stewards," stated Council member Heidi Wills. "With this resolution we are renewing and expanding Seattle’s environmental commitment."
"We’re determined to set the standard for environmentally responsible municipal government," said Mayor Schell. "Earth Day 2000 and the challenge of global warming give us the opportunity – and the responsibility – to do even more."
Seattle City Light, the city’s municipally owned utility, has been a leader in energy conservation efforts for more than 20 years and operates one of the largest publicly owned power systems in the United States.
"America has the technology and resources to meet all its energy needs while safeguarding the earth's climate," said Denis Hayes, chair of the international organization sponsoring Earth Day activities and original founder of Earth Day in 1970. "The urgent question now is, 'Do we have the will?' At least one city does, and I'm proud to live in it. They don't call Seattle the Emerald City for nothing."
For the first time in its 30 year history, the organizers of Earth Day chose a central environmental theme: global warming. No one environmental issue has more implications for the world and its ecosystems. In the Pacific Northwest, scientists foresee more summer droughts, winter floods, damage to forests, rising of ocean levels and deteriorating conditions for endangered salmon, among other impacts. By meeting electricity demand without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, the City is making a major commitment in leading the fight against global warming.
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