Missoula Mayor John Engen said at Friday’s City Club Missoula discussion that since cities produce 73 percent of all greenhouse gases, he believes it is his duty, as mayor, to catalyze a significant reduction in emissions in Missoula.
“When it comes to global warming,” Engen said to the audience in the Florence building, “cities are both the problem and the solution.”
Engen described anti-sprawl, urban forest restoration and public information campaigns as being crucial in achieving greenhouse gas levels in line with the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a reduction in emissions to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012. He also cited energy conservation and efficiency.
Engen is continuing a plan started by his predecessor Mike Kadas, both of whom signed on to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
One feature of the city’s plan involves the use of methane-powered boilers at the wastewater treatment plant. These boilers will make the plant more energy efficient, and “green” in another way, too: a poplar farm will soon be planted there. The fast-growing poplar trees will help suck up excess nitrogen and CO2. Engen also said a local eco-compost company will take the sludge, or run off, and convert it into compost.
Other items on the city’s agenda include getting GMC hybrid pickup trucks for the city and the fire departments, and more efficient diesel vehicles fueled by recycled oil at the police station pump.
Also, the police department will be getting a face-lift as it pursues a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. It will involve solar paneling of some kind, automatic shut off and laser sensors for water faucets, energy efficient lighting, and more.
Recycling, of course, is a component of the plan as well. However, Engen said because of low volume and high cost of transportation, glass recycling in Missoula is still, sadly, impossibile.
Where will the money come from to make these improvements? Perhaps a two percent tax on expenses such as hotel lodging, restaurant meals and liquor by the glass, Engen said. In defense of this idea, he quipped, “I’ve eaten at restaurants and had liquor by the glass and after a couple that (tax) could go up.”
It’s an ambitious plan, but the mayor walks the talk: he drives a 40 MPG Toyota Prius. And yes, he assured the audience, he can fit into it.