Climate Change

It’s here, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and we have to take action. Most Ashlanders are deeply concerned about climate changes we already see and those yet to come. We know we need to be part of the solution, and we want to be.

Thanks to incredible advances in technology, electric options are increasingly more affordable than conventional fossil fuel equipment. I believe we can move from climate anxiety to climate solutions and transformational economic opportunity. City policy must direct resources to helping our most vulnerable neighbors adapt to increased risk of fire, smoke, extreme heat, and drought.

I have spent many years working at the intersection of environment/climate with economic development (improving livelihoods) and social welfare. These are not new issues for me, and I am personally deeply committed to helping people improve their livelihoods while protecting the environment, which increasingly also means adapting to a changing climate.

My Priorities

  • Phase out our fossil fuel reliance through city ordinances and electrification
  • Ensure that low-income households can join the transition away from dependence on fossil fuels and don’t get left behind. The Inflation Reduction Act will offer lots of new funding to help this transition!
  • Continue investments to make our city firewise, expand access to smoke-free and cool indoor space in the summer when needed, and rationalize our water use
  • Be prepared! We need first-rate communications and evacuation plans in case of disaster. We also need to increase local solar power generation and energy storage so vital city and community operations can function in the event of a prolonged disruption.
  • Jointly address our affordable housing crunch and climate impact by:
    • applying for grants and low-cost loans to finance weatherization and installation of high-efficiency electric equipment in new and existing housing
    • exploring the feasibility of raising the height limit in some areas of the city to allow energy-efficient apartment buildings/condos that could be offered at a lower rental rate or sale price.
    • making it easier for residents to rely more on walking, cycling, or public transport instead of driving
    • bringing back the Ashland Connector!

Ashland’s Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP) was approved by the City Council in 2017 and is incorporated into the Municipal Code as Title 9.40: Climate Recovery.. The CEAP is an ambitious framework to reduce our community’s climate impact and enhance our resilience in the face of likely climate change impacts. It includes a list of goals, strategies, and actions that the community could undertake between 2017 and 2025, with climate goals for the Ashland community as a whole, as well as goals for municipal operations.

Click here to read the City’s most recent CEAP progress report (May 2021).

The Deeper Dive

Enhancing Resilience

In the coming decades, building community resilience to the effects of climate change and protecting our most vulnerable residents will be one of the primary roles of our governments. In addition to securing a basic safety net of accessible heating and cooling shelters, I will look for ways to invest in win-win-win opportunities like home energy efficiency that reduce exposure to the effects of climate change, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and save on monthly utility bills.

Promoting a just transition off fossil fuels

There are many things we can do in Ashland to phase out our reliance on fossil fuels to improve public health, address climate change, and increase affordability. Owning our electric utility makes the task much easier and more affordable. We need an urgent campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of the deleterious health and environmental impacts of burning “natural” gas (methane) in our homes, and that better electric alternatives are available. We should then move as soon as possible to ban “natural” gas connections in new residential construction. The more difficult task is to retire gas equipment in existing residences. We can facilitate this over several years by ensuring every home is ready to support full electrification by having a 200 amp service panel and a plan with financing in place (if necessary) to make the switch.

Supporting youth leadership 

I support having at least one youth member on every city commission with full voting rights. I am exploring possible collaboration with SOU’s “Democracy Project” to develop a public policy “practicum” to evaluate and advise me on issues coming before the Council; this could potentially include AHS student participation as well. Ashland running its own electric, water, and wastewater treatment utilities provides great opportunities for students to explore the interconnections among these systems and their importance for community health and economic vitality. I am also strongly in favor of remodeling the Daniel Meyer pool with an appropriate retractable roof and a fossil-free heating system.

Housing & climate

All-electric houses are less expensive to build than dual-fuel buildings and emit less greenhouse gasses. We should apply for grants and low-cost loans to finance weatherization and installation of high efficiency electric equipment to reduce emissions and reduce monthly utility bills in new and existing housing, including accessory dwelling units for rental. Ashland’s highly supportive policy for virtual net metering offers additional opportunities to install community solar facilities, which could be another element in a strategy to reduce electricity rates for income-qualified households.

We should also explore the feasibility of raising the height limit in some areas of the city to allow perhaps four or five-floor energy efficient apartment buildings or condominiums that could be offered at a lower rental rate or sale price. Siting additional housing relatively centrally and near the transit triangle could make it easier for residents to rely more on walking, cycling, or public transport instead of driving their own car for all errands. Bring back the Ashland Connector!

My history of environmental leadership

I spent three decades working in Latin America, including on several major environment and climate adaptation initiatives. 

In the early 1990/91, I led a World Bank team that prepared a loan and grant package to the government of Mexico to strengthen the regulatory and enforcement capacity of the national environmental protection agency and manage the national system of protected ecological areas for biodiversity protection. 

From 1992-94, also at the World Bank, I led the design and start-up of a multi-national $250 million grant program in the Brazilian Amazon to secure indigenous lands and extractive reserves, fund local conservation organizations, establish and strengthen state environmental protection agencies, and other related projects. 

From 1998-2007, I led a team of experts at the Inter-American Development Bank responsible for all lending and technical assistance in Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti for environmental protection, natural resource management, potable water and wastewater treatment, and natural disaster risk management. Early climate work included supporting “joint implementation” agreements through the Global Environmental Facility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Mexico and a few Central American countries, as well as working with Caribbean fishing communities affected by deterioration of the Mesoamerican barrier reef (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) due to climate change. 

From 2010-17, I was President and CEO of the Inter-American Foundation. We funded community organizations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean that presented proposals on a wide range of issues, including environmental protection and adapting to climate change. Examples include a network of community organizations in Costa Rica that worked together to regulate coastal fishing to preserve fragile marine resources; ecotourism and preservation of a large fragile wetland in northern Argentina; and early warning and civil protection systems for Salvadoran communities vulnerable to more frequent flood events.