As California goes dry, climate change denial is flowing freely through Atascadero.
The Atascadero City Council approved at its Jan. 28 meeting the implementation of a Climate Action Plan (CAP), designed to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, putting the city in compliance with state mandates. The plan became a bit of a hot potato after the Jan. 14 meeting, when councilmembers Heather Moreno and Roberta Fonzi picked through the 261-page document, intent on removing language that discussed human impacts on climate change and the benefits that decreased greenhouse gas emissions would bring to the community.
“In the plan before us, there’s a lot of filler in here, there’s a lot of politically charged statements that don’t really add anything to the plan,” Moreno said at the Jan. 14 meeting. “They are really just opinion, and they aren’t necessary.”
Absent was a discussion about whether the plan should be approved, which seemed to gather a favorable consensus at the time. Rather, at issue was information on the plan’s background and benefits. During the more-than-two-hour editing session, the subject of controversy included statements like: “The [Climate Action Plan] will also help achieve multiple community goals such as lowering energy costs, reducing air pollution, supporting local economic development, and improving public health and quality of life.”
The Jan. 14 meeting saw only four members of the public speak on the topic, all of them favorable to the plan. One citizen expressed concern with what he deemed environmentalists’ plan to achieve complete control of the nation and its resources.
The Jan. 28 meeting was a far cry from that—bringing in approximately 20 people to line up for public comment, with just as many in the audience waving signs. The crowd had mixed feelings about the issue, with the first handful of speakers listing scientific facts and the benefits of a cleaner environment, while others said they had science, too, and appreciated said councilmembers’ willingness to stand up to the growing hegemony put in motion by plans for a one-world government. Speakers described the CAP as a “draconian ordinance” and a “Trojan horse,” rife with “cookie-cutter language jammed down the throats of cities around the state.”
Among a discord of comments, the common theme wasn’t the plan itself, but the politics behind it.
“I think it’s unfortunate that this has been turned into a political circus because two members of the council chose to purge any mention of science and smart growth,” Atascadero Planning Commissioner Len Colamarino told the council.
The council eventually settled on a plan, with some language altered and reinserted upon the recommendation of residents Ray Weynmann and Walter Reil. After public comment and council position statements subsided, Mayor Tom O’Malley once again walked the quintet and staff through the plan, encouraging the council to avoid sweating the small stuff as he gathered consensus on language.
“We are not going to agree on why we are doing it, and that is OK,” O’Mallley said.
The council approved the plan 5-0.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay