Future changes to our climate, from an increasingly variable water cycle to extreme weather events, and how they affect us depend on the choices we make today.
My wife and I, and our three children moved into Draper in 2015, looking for a home above the valley’s smog inversion. The smoke-filled skies all summer long from fires intensified by regional changes to climate and years of exceptional drought, along with the threat of frequent toxic-dust-bowls from a soon-to-be-dry lakebed of the Great Salt Lake, and the dwindling seasonal snowpack are all making it difficult to stay.
Today, I am running for Draper City Council to ensure that our city and its infrastructure are prepared for our climate future. With eyes wide open and fiscal responsibility, a vote for Russ Fugal ensures that our city is involved in the global human effort to limit human-induced global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. This is a tall ask of any policy maker who isn’t laser focused on this, the greatest challenge of our time, and I am.
If you believe, as I do, that local policy must include consideration of climate change adaptation and mitigation, rank Russ Fugal as your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th choice for Draper City Council on November 2, 2021.
Based on an assessment of over 14,000 scientific publications, the IPCC 2021 report on the Physical Science Basis of Climate Change shows multiple, observed changes in every part of our planet. The report answers important questions about how emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants are altering our climate, how plants, soils and the ocean store and release carbon, how the climate responds to human influence, and what we can expect from any increase in global warming. The report provides information on the diverse regional aspects of climate change that can support our strategies.
As Katharine Hayhoe so eloquently put it, I am a climate activist “precisely because of my faith, because climate change disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable, those already most at risk today. To me, caring about and acting on climate was a way to live out my calling to love others as we’ve been loved ourselves by God.”
Through that faith, in 2019 I called on the Mayor Walker and the Draper City Council to pass a Draper City resolution signing on to HB411, a bill passed by the Utah State Legislature to allow municipalities to go 100% renewable by 2030 through Rocky Mountain Power. I even wrote the resolution for them, and I suggest you read it.
The response I received from Tasha Lowery was unacceptable and incorrect. She wrote:
Thank you for your letter regarding HB411. As you may be aware, Draper recently passed a Clean Air Initiative and we are very invested in educating our residents as we work together to make our city and valley a healthier place for all residents. We currently have over 5,000 acres of preserved open space, more than any city in the state, land that will be protected for perpetuity. We also have more than 100 miles of an interconnected trail system, making Draper one of the best cities for hiking and biking. With emissions accountable for upwards of 60% of our air quality issues, our commitment to being a walkable and bikable city is critical. We have applied for grants for charging stations for electric vehicles and are looking at possibilities for e-bikes for our public safety team to reduce our footprint.
With that said, we have studied HB411 and are not considering it at this time. With the latest announcements and commitments by Rocky Mountain Power, this Bill has in effect been nullified. In fact, if we were to adopt HB411, the ultimate outcome would be YOU, our residents, seeing higher energy bills and rate increases. This would hit our elderly, fixed income, and lower income residents the hardest, especially as they would have to “opt out” if they did not want to be impacted. HB411 does not guarantee that your city will be getting clean energy- you may be paying for Layton to have cleaner energy. And RMP has already promised to move to a net 100% renewable energy profile. What it does guarantee is that Draper residents will be the ones paying for it.
We are all for doing our part and we have made great strides forward. At the same time, we have to be strategic, wise, and fiscally conservative with your tax dollars. If a program doesn’t make the absolute best use of your money, then we will wait for one that does.
I responded, rebutting several of her points. I received no further reply and no resolution adopting HB411 was passed. I wrote:
I disagree that PacificCorp’s 2019 IRP has essentially nullified HB411. The IRP has a target of 100% carbon-free energy outside the 20-year planning horizon with only a 70% reduction by 2039 and 100% beyond 2050. HB411 calls for 100% net carbon-free energy by 2030. As the IPCC SR15 clearly states (which I hope you did take time to read), there is a world of difference between those two scenarios. The 2019 IRP goals are incompatible with a 2°C limit on global heating, much less a limit of 1.5°C. HB411 is designed to use market forces to put additional pressure on the utility to meet more aggressive targets while also giving consumers power to push back. HB411 has more than enough written into it to ensure that rates don’t increase for those least able to afford it.
In the February 13, 2019 National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee hearing, emphasizing “the power of local government in solving this problem,” Utah Congressional Representative Curtis said, “if you want to reduce [future heating] by two degrees, mayors know how to solve this.” You cannot “solve this” if you are not reading the IPCC reports and taking action in line with the clear accounting.
This is low hanging fruit. Even if our electric utility went 100% carbon-free today our carbon footprint would still be 10 tCO2/resident/year — over twice the global median of 3.8 tCO2/person/year. The IPCC accounting clearly states that global emissions must halve (i.e. to 1.9 tCO2/person/year, a 90% reduction to Utah’s current carbon footprint) by 2030. If your ideology aligns with Rep. Curtis’ and you believe utilities and municipalities are best positioned to solve this problem, show it by passing this resolution or acknowledge that you have no interest or responsibility in limiting global heating to 2°C.
This is why I am running for Draper City Council. To be frank, a single councilmember won’t change the character of the city council or block or pass any ordinances or resolutions on their own. In fact, over 91% of ordinances and over 95% of resolutions brought to the Draper City Council were passed or dismissed with a unanimous vote and only two ordinances from the last two years were decided by a single councilmember vote: 1457 on October 6, 2020 and 1416 on January 14, 2020. What I can do on the city council is inject a focus on climate change into the debate, testimony, and drafting of ordinances and resolutions. If you believe, as I do, that local policy must include consideration of climate change adaptation and mitigation, rank Russ Fugal as your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th choice for Draper City Council on November 2, 2021. In a ranked choice vote, your ballot matters more than ever.
If you’d like to reach out to meet up or join my campaign, jump into my DMs on Twitter or email:
eight-05wheelie at icloud . com (active only through Nov 2, 2021)
To learn more about my background, education, activism, or politics, visit:
2021 Campaign Tweets
2020 Campaign Tweets
or keep reading here on rfugal.Medium.com