Missoula is officially on its way to carbon neutrality.
With great aplomb from supporters, the Missoula City Council on Monday unanimously adopted a Conservation and Climate Action Plan.
The plan sets a goal for the city to become carbon neutral by 2025 to save money, reduce energy use and cut emissions.
“I think this is a watershed moment for the city,” said Councilman Alex Taft.
“It’s a nice culmination of a lot of efforts, and we’ll be doing our part regardless of what happens elsewhere,” said Mayor John Engen, who convened the task force to do the work. “And we’ll be saving money and serving our citizens while we’re at it.”
The plan sets interim goals, and it also lays out strategies in fleet and facilities, internal policies and renewable energy. It drew much praise Monday for city leaders who are pushing forward on the formidable task.
“I think that it’s commendable that our city is willing to show leadership in this area,” said Jack Tuholske. “We desperately need our elected officials to start paving the way at the local level.”
Tuholske, who identified himself as both a professor of law who teaches climate change and also as a grandfather, said the matter is not partisan. He said national agencies are calling climate change one of the most significant threats to national security.
“It’s an issue about our nation’s survival and our grandchildren’s future,” Tuholske said.
Claudia Brown of Transition Missoula was effusive over the document’s adoption: “It’s very exciting. It’s wonderful. It is so important. It’s just essential.“
Transition Missoula aims to develop local economies and resilient communities in the face of climate change, oil depletion and economic fragility, Brown said. But the economy can’t withstand the forces of climate change.
“If we don’t reduce our emissions, we are going to have economic problems that will so far overshadow what we have now,” Brown said.
Missoula builder Steve Loken offered praise and a suggestion that Missoula look to Bonn, Germany, as a leader in addressing global warming. The best investment to combat climate change is planting trees, he said.
“The city is doing a great job right now in terms of its urban forestry program. I’d like to see that enlarged and expanded as a complement to this climate action plan,” Loken said.
At the meeting, the council also sent back to committee a request for a permit that would allow the Kettlehouse Brewing Co. to increase its wholesale business.
“My mom, I and the Cold Smoke-loving citizens of Missoula, Kalispell, Helena and beyond are asking for your approval,” said Tim O’Leary of the Kettlehouse.
Cold Smoke is the brewery’s signature Scotch ale. The move for the brewery’s Myrtle Street location would separate the production side of the business from the taproom. The taproom would operate under a beer and wine license, and it wouldn’t have to stop serving pints at 8 p.m.
Neighbors have raised concerns about more parking problems, noise and dogs, and the council sent the item back to committee to discuss placing conditions on the permit.
Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (406) 523-5262.