The Laramie City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to accept recommendations that hope to make Laramie carbon neutral by 2050. The recommended actions will offset municipal emissions with carbon removal techniques, and the city will turn to renewable resources where possible.
The City Council first approached the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC), a joint committee for the City Council and Board of County Commissioners, in December, requesting these recommendations. The EAC presented its final report during a work session on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Both last week's work session and this week's council meeting were well attended by the public.
"It was humbling to see that level of support coming from the community. I mean, this really has been, and likely will continue to be, a really citizen driven initiative," Councilman Brian Harrington said. "Seeing that number of people was remarkable. For a move as big as this and to have that kind of support, I think really was significant to the council."
According to Harrington, the acceptance of the recommendations at the council meeting was met with a standing ovation from the audience.
The EAC's recommendations will help Laramie reduce their emissions by 50 percent by 2030, 90 percent by 2040, and net zero by 2050.
"When you start these sort of projects, it's always easier to get those wins up front, some of those easy reductions in carbon emissions are easier to come by, so upfront will have some bigger wins. The last 20 percent is going to be a challenge, and that's why those things will be down the road. So that we're getting better all the time and able to make those changes as we go," Councilman Harrington said.
Recommended actions include the city moving to a completely electric or hybrid municipal vehicle fleet and adding solar panels to municipal buildings. There is also a significant public education component to the plans that encourage individual participation and keep the public informed on the actions being taken.
"I do hope that we start to see more communities understand that this is an apolitical action. It is not something that conservatives or liberals decide what to do. But it's something that citizens realized that it's something that needs to be done," EAC member Eric Krszjzaniek said. "And if nothing else, they can actually see that it saves money in the long run, and I think that's important to remember too."
Harrington said the council plans to utilize partnerships with the University of Wyoming Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the School of Business to save taxpayers money and build a concrete plan following these recommendations. The city could begin taking action as soon as July 2020.
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