City Council Approves Dallas Climate Plan

There is also support from the city of Dallas for a carbon fee

Dallas moved ahead with its own climate plan Wednesday, using $500,000 left over from the plastic bag fee that was repealed in 2015.

The bag fee money was earmarked only for environmental improvement issues, and this is how the city council decided to use it.

Bag manufacturers forced repeal of the controversial bag fee that was intended to help the environment.

Federal officials have cast doubt on whether global warming is real, but Dallas City Council members said they were making a statement with their votes Wednesday.

"I just think leadership in this city is tremendous and I’m proud of this council," council member Sandy Greyson said.

Environmental activists who have supported the city's effort were at city hall to cheer.

"Today is the dawning of a new day in Dallas," said Rita Beving, with the group Public Citizen.

The city of Dallas already buys renewable wind and solar energy to power city buildings. Many city vehicles use natural gas fuel.

The climate plan could expand the use of alternative fuel or electric power for vehicles; solar panels could be installed; construction rules in the city could change to require more green buildings.

Supporters praised the selection of consulting firm AECOM, which has extensive environmental experience, to draft the city climate plan.

"What we've all been seeing, is that when cities take a lead on issues like this, other cities will follow," Beving said.

Councilman Lee Kleinman, who strongly supports cutting taxes, is also a strong supporter of spending to help the environment. He has solar panels on his home and drives an electric powered car.

"How many of our council members have solar panels on their house? Let the record show, one," Kleinman said. "We have to walk this walk. We can't just pass resolutions."

In a separate vote, the city council passed a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to impose a carbon fee.

Ann Drumm, with the group Citizens Climate Lobby, said a fee charged to producers of fuel as it enters the economy could reduce greenhouse emissions by 40 percent in 12 years.

"It puts a fee on the CO2 content of coal, oil and natural gas, and returns the revenue to U.S. households, to individuals on a per capita basis," Drumm said.

Petroleum business groups strongly the idea.

Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough expressed concern that consumers would wind up paying the fee.

"And how it can potentially impact all of us across the city and how it could impact some expense in our electric bills," McGough said.

The carbon fee issue is for the U.S. Congress to settle.

The Dallas climate plan approved Wednesday will include only measures that the city of Dallas can take on its own.

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