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Wood River Valley group addresses climate change with local governments

A climate change coalition in Blaine County is working with local governments on adopting clean energy resolutions.
Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 2:37 PM MST
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HAILEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —A climate change coalition in Blaine County is working with local governments in their area on adopting clean energy resolutions, and the group has not only made a positive impression on city councils but also on the local youth.

Eighteen-year-old Audari Tamayo of Hailey is concerned about climate change, and he told KMVT he doesn’t even need to look at the TV to see its impact. He can see it in his own backyard.

“The mountains were never bare, and as you can see, bare mountains,” said Tamayo. “And that really never happened here. Snow melting in February has never happened before either.”

To get involved in enacting positive change, he joined the Climate Action Coalition of the Wood River Valley. His chemistry teacher Scott Runkel, of the Sun Valley Community School, is one of the founding members.

“I do see those local signs where the snowpack is melting earlier, and storms that might have fallen in the valley as snow is now rain,” Runkel said.

He said one of the group’s initiatives is to get all the municipalities and local governments in Blaine County to adopt clean energy resolutions of 100% clean electricity by 2035, and 100% clean energy by 2045.

“Our organization went to a presentation by the Sierra Club right before the pandemic. It was the last thing I did in a group before everything shut down,” Runkel said. “And the Sierra Club was talking about a campaign they had called Ready for 100. It’s this idea of trying to help communities to pass resolutions to commit to 100% clean energy.”

Runkel said so far the Blaine County commissioners and the council members of Hailey, Ketchum, and most recently Bellevue have adopted the group’s clean energy initiatives and passed resolutions.

“When the Ketchum city council went to consider this they received over 100 letters of support from the community, and they were blown away by that,” Runkel said.

Tamayo added the mayor of Bellevue said that they received more emails for this issue than anything else they ever had.

Nina Tooley, who is a member of the group, said she is glad local governments have been so supportive because she cares about the next generation.

“I have two boys, five and six years old, and I just want to leave them with a better world. A sense of urgency,” Tooley said.

Runkel said that if local governments work together regionally, they will have a better chance of negotiating with Idaho Power and getting grants from the federal government for clean energy projects.

Tamayo said when it comes to clean energy, he prefers wind over solar, and he doesn’t know if a change in leadership in Washington D.C. is going to create the change he wants to see.

“At least he (Pres. Joe Biden) believes in climate change, that’s a start,” Tamayo said. “Talk is one thing, but action is what matters.”

But in the end, he thinks his generation is going to have to be the ones to enact change, but it might be tougher for some than others.

“I feel like the younger generation we are experiencing more, so it’s easier in that aspect,” Tamayo said. “But also kids typically imitate their parents.”

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