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Clean Energy by 2045? The City of Pocatello's Resolution, Part 3

Ryan McGoldrick, Conservation Voters for Idaho

This week on Sustainable Idaho, Scott and Rachel speak to a representative from both the Idaho Conservation League and Conservation Voters for Idaho, to further explore City sustainable energy resolutions.

For the last two episodes, Sustainable Idaho has explored the City of Pocatello’s Clean Energy resolution. In 2019, the City of Pocatello passed a resolution that advocated for a clean energy system by or before 2045. The City described the energy system as comprising electricity generation, buildings, transportation, waste management, and agriculture.

Speaking to the City of Pocatello’s Public Works Director and a Council Member, we learned that the City has recently created a ‘Clean Energy Task Force’, which is overseeing and enacting policies and practices that support renewable energy, maximize energy conservation, and support the transition to a clean energy system.

The City of Pocatello is off to a good start in achieving the targets set out in the resolution. But this week on Sustainable Idaho, we are investigating why clean energy resolutions, like the one in Pocatello, are being created all over Idaho and the US.

We started by speaking to Ryan McGoldrick, who represents the group Conservation Voters for Idaho. Ryan explained that in Idaho, a lot has been happening with respect to renewable, sustainable, and clean energy resolutions in the last few years. Due to a lack of federal and governmental progress in this area, Ryan believes that cities have seized the initiative and have taken it upon themselves to make meaningful change. Importantly, when cities such as Pocatello and Idaho Falls, take these actions at the city level, they are able to build in a level of local specificity. Ryan suggests that this allows resolutions to be shaped to fit the local community. Ryan continued to state that issues of sustainability and renewable energy generation are largely bi-partisan and non-partisan issues within Idaho, with as much as 70% of residents supporting the implementation of these sustainable measures.

But this really got us thinking, why is there such overwhelming support for clean and renewable energy in Idaho, whilst major political divisions exist across other environmental issues? So to help us answer this question, we spoke Ben Otto, an energy expert from the Idaho Conservation League.

Ben explained that clean energy aligns with Idahoan values. Clean energy is cost effective, it’s secure, it’s generated in state, and it helps us meet our own family’s needs. Ben continued to state that renewable energy supports self-sufficiency and supports the environment, which is important in Idaho because we are invested in outdoor pursuits such as camping, fishing, hunting, cycling, and hiking.

From both Ryan McGoldrick and Ben Otto, we learned that clean energy resolutions are being driven by local community members in association with their City Councils. Arguably, it is the drive of local willpower, which is allowing the rapid creation of renewable energy resolutions all across Idaho.

Over the last few weeks, we have learned that support for clean and renewable energy is the product of both strong economic and environmental arguments. If you want to get involved in your city’s quest for renewable energy, remember you can make small but meaningful changes to your own energy efficiency and consumption, get involved in related local groups and projects, and contact your elected officials to make sure that they know this is a priority issue in your community.

Thanks to Ben Otto and Ryan McGoldrick this week.