..Home News .Climate Task Force presents 30-plus ways to reduce Bozeman’s carbon footprint Tuesday, November 30, 2010

12:15 am | Updated: 9:40 pm, Mon Nov 29, 2010.

Bozeman, Montana is taking the right step this means Missoula, Montana has taken this step or it will soon. California and its large population have probably already taken this step. This is a good start and these cities seem like they are way ahead of the federal government on this…no surprizes there.
By AMANDA RICKER, Chronicle Staff Writer

A task force developing a plan to reduce Bozeman’s carbon footprint is proposing everything from building large-scale alternative energy facilities to charging people who use plastic bags.

The 15-member Mayor’s Community Climate Task Force has compiled a list of more than 30 ways the city can encourage or require its citizens to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bozeman City Commission listened to preliminary recommendations from the task force during its regular meeting on Monday night. Commissioners did not take any action and are slated to further tweak the plan at another meeting Jan. 18, before later deciding whether to approve it.

Scott Bischke, a chemical engineer and citizen representative on the task force, told commissioners Monday that to make a sizeable dent in its carbon footprint Bozeman needs to look at where it gets its energy.

He asked commissioners if they’re willing to look at ways to supply the community with its own alternative energy. The task force’s plan suggests building city-operated facilities to generate electricity from the sun, wind or biomass.

“The only way we’re going to make big improvements is to produce our own power,” said Anders Lewendal, task force member and chairman of the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association.

However, task force members admitted the cost of such an endeavor would be daunting.

They also suggested a number of ways to conserve energy, though they admitted that conservation alone likely won’t solve the problem.

Task force members are proposing the city adopt a 5-cent fee for use of plastic bags. People who tote their purchases home with store provided plastic bags could be charged 5 cents for each one they use.

They’re also recommending the city adopt an anti-idling ordinance, similar to those in other states. The Vermont Legislature is considering a statewide ban on vehicle idling in excess of two minutes.

Other recommendations in the plan include:

• Purchasing carbon offsets from alternative energy produced father away.

• Restricting high polluting fuel sources. For example, burning wood in wood stoves could only be allowed on certain days when the weather conditions are at their best for disbursing the exhaust.

• Providing recycling bins in public spaces such as parks and recreational areas.

• Asking the Montana Legislature to approve a policy that allows people to opt-out of having phone books left on their doorstep.

• Hiring a fulltime community coordinator and provide annual emissions progress reports to the community.

• Promoting existing government and NorthWestern Energy conservation rebates.

• Dedicating 1 mill, about $80,000, in property taxes to the Streamline Public Bus system annually to help keep it fare free.

• Improving lighting on sidewalks using solar power wherever possible.

In reviewing the recommendations, commissioners acknowledged that they may be wary of mandatory regulations and that some price tags may be too expensive.

Nevertheless, they asked the task force to continue thinking big.

“This is a very serious situation,” Commissioner Carson Taylor said. “We’re not going to take it lightly.”

Bozeman started down the greener path when Mayor Jeff Krauss signed the nationwide Mayor’s Climate Protection agreement in 2006. The city joined more than 1,000 communities across the nation, including Missoula, Helena and Billings, that have committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Initiated by the mayor of Seattle, the mayors’ agreement was formed in response to the United States’ unwillingness to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which committed nations to reducing emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

After signing onto the mayors’ agreement, Bozeman set a goal of focusing first on municipal emissions, setting an example for the community to follow.

The city commission adopted the Municipal Climate Action Plan in 2008. That plan calls for the city to reduce its municipal greenhouse gases to 15 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.

The city hopes to complete the Community Climate Action Plan in 2011.

Members of the task force drafting the community plan have been meeting for the past year. Members include three citizens-at-large as well as representatives from NorthWestern Energy, the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, Bozeman Public Schools, Montana State University and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

Amanda Ricker can be reached at aricker@dailychronicle.com or 582-2628.

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