A group of about 50 climate action activists batted about ideas on fossil fuel infrastructure on Thursday night at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.
The Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project near Coos Bay, a possible state initiative to ban fossil fuel infrastructure and carbon fee and dividend legislation were discussed.
But the idea that seemed to resonate most was one that could be implemented locally — looking into a local ban on natural gas infrastructure in new housing construction. Berkeley, California, has passed such a ban, which aims to eliminate natural gas from the grid and replace it with renewable electricity.
Former Corvallis Councilor Mike Beilstein offered to organize a group that will take such a proposal to the City Council. Despite the strong support the concept had in the room, it has its challenges. Several participants noted that Pacific Power, which supplies the juice for most of the mid-valley, generates big chunks of it by burning coal.
That’s why the Berkeley ordinance mandates the city be powered totally by renewables by 2035.
Participants also spoke out in favor of a climate crisis resolution that has been forwarded to the City Council by the city’s Climate Action Advisory Board. Councilors are scheduled to act on it at their 6 p.m. Monday meeting at the downtown fire station.
Another challenge that participants brought up was the feeling that big, drastic steps were needed, while American society and governmental structures do not even appear to be ready for baby steps.
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Also, Asher Miller of the Corvallis-based Post Carbon Institute, noted that renewable infrastructure such as wind turbines requires fossil fuel infrastructure to build and transport.
And a renewable here might give you more bang for your eco buck than one somewhere else. Jason Bradford noted that a California electric-vehicle plug-in that uses renewable energy makes so much more sense than one in Kentucky, where the electricity is coal-fired.
Another challenge is that the U.S. economy is so dependent on fossil fuels. Which led Karen Josephson to declare “we will never solve this by volunteering. You can change your diet or make your house tighter or choose to ride a bike, but there have to be market forces” driving more substantive change.
Miller tried to boost attendees' spirits by acknowledging “there is a lot of tension out there. There are things that need to happen and it’s not enough. And it takes a psychological toll. We need to be working at the local, state and national levels. We need a diversity of approaches on housing and transportation.
“And you don’t know what is going to work. Nobody predicted Greta Thunberg,” the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has helped galvanize climate action support internationally.
“I don’t have an answer,” Miller said, “but I feel the pressure. We can’t do it all ourselves. Things are going to get more difficult. This is going to be hard.”