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City of Lander sets goals to cut down on town’s emissions over the coming years

A circle graph illustrates where greenhouse gas emissions come from for the city of Lander, by sector and source. The "building and facilities" category makes up 60% of emissions, with those emissions coming from electricity and natural gas.
The City of Lander 2021 Municipal Energy and Environment Report
Municipal greenhouse gas emissions for the City of Lander in 2021, with the emissions sector on the interior ring and the source of emissions that make up that sector on the outside ring. This data will be used as the baseline for goals to reduce the city's emissions by 20 percent by 2030, 50 percent by 2040, and 80 percent by 2050.

The Lander City Council recently adopted a resolution aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions in the hopes of increasing energy efficiency and saving more money for the town. Resolution 1317 was passed on December 12th and outlines goals to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2030, 50 percent by 2040, and 80 percent by 2050.

The resolution was passed with a 5 to 2 vote. The reductions will specifically focus on city-owned and operated buildings, like the Community Center and Water Treatment Plant, and progress towards the goals will be analyzed every five years.

The percentage-reductions draw their baseline from a 2021 Municipal Energy and Environment Report from the Energy and Environment Task Force, which is a volunteer advisory board to the City of Lander. The task force had recommended an emissions reduction target for 2050 during a council meeting back in October.

Over multiple meetings, council members provided feedback to the task force and went back and forth on how many goals to set and on what time scale. An initial resolution only included emission-reduction goals for 2030 and 2040. But, at the meeting on December 12th, council member Missy White proposed an amendment and said adding a goal for 2050 would give Lander a leg up when it comes to grants.

“Since we need additional funds to continue to provide updated infrastructure, and largely we’ll be dependent on grants for that, I would hate to see us be hampered by not being comparable to other communities doing that,” she said.

Council member Julia Stuble seconded the amendment to add a goal for 2050.

“I think this addition will make us much more competitive in the grants that we are pursuing to chase after these energy-efficiency dollars, and it makes us have a much more standardized type of goal,” she said.

Lander Mayor Monte Richardson added that the targets are flexible.

“This is a resolution. It can be changed at any time, so if we can’t reach a goal, I think we can readjust it,” he said.

Council member Dan Hahn said he wasn’t against all of the resolution, but did express concerns about whether or not the grants would be overly restrictive.

“There’s strings attached, which take the power away from the people that want to make the decisions,” he said.

Hahn also said he felt that a carbon footprint measurement is “just a little piece of the puzzle” and that other parts of the energy production process, like labor, weren’t included in the conversation.

“It saddens me that we talk about one little thing, and the picture is so big,” he said. Hahn ended up voting against the resolution.

City staff and members of the Energy and Environment Task Force are currently creating a plan to help reach the goals that were set out in the resolution. The City of Laramie and the Town of Jackson have both passed similar resolutions in recent years.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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