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City Council Votes Yes on Climate Action Proposal


City Council Votes Yes on Climate Action Proposal

"This is a win all the way around," said Stillwater City Councilman Larry Odebrecht, introducing a resolution to begin the process of creating a plan to assess the city's greenhouse gas output and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Odebrecht was seeking the Council's blessing to take the first steps toward creating a city-wide climate action plan using available resources at the March 7, 2023 City Council meeting.

Forward-thinking cities throughout the country are creating climate action plans to guide their decisions in order to anticipate adverse weather and its effects on infrastructure down the road.

Odebrecht sought to get the city councilors and Mayor Ted Kozlowski to support moving forward on the first steps to create a plan, and to commit to Xcel Energy's free Partners in Energy two-year assistance program to cities. Sustainable Stillwater MN and local experts would also be involved in the planning process.

Roger Tomten, Sustainable Stillwater MN's climate action team lead, addressed the Council in support, saying his organization appreciated Odebrecht's help in putting climate action on the "front burner." He said "while Sustainable Stillwater MN doesn't have a lot of funds, it does have social capital and a lot of people willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work to help the city's sustainable efforts."

Rick Heidick, Sustainable Stillwater MN's chair, added, "The bottom line is inactivity. What Larry is proposing is really important. Climate change is going to happen one way or another, and if we wait, then it's going to happen in ways we're not anticipating and that's going to be a problem for Stillwater."

"It's about future livability. If we don't get the ball rolling now, it'll be too late," said Heidick.

Partners in Energy is Xcel's program to work with cities on the energy portion of climate action planning. Most recently, Mahtomedi is one of two dozen Minnesota cities that have worked with Xcel to create their own climate action plans, said Michael Wilhelmi, Community Relations Manager for Xcel Energy. The utility company provides professional facilitators for planning workshops, marketing, and data analysis on energy use that can inform a plan. "Cities then tell us what's important," he said, referring to the actual provisions of a climate action plan. Wilhelmi said a plan ultimately requires the assistance of a city staff member that might involve 80-100 hours over six months.

Councilor Odebrecht said he is volunteering to be a member of the climate action committee. Other volunteers will be recruited from the community and from Sustainable Stillwater MN.

When it came time for a vote, Mayor Ted Kozlowski made a motion to accept the proposal. Council members Ryan Collins, Odebrecht, and the Mayor voted yes. Member Dave Junker voted no. Councilor Polehna was absent.

The measure passed.

After the vote, Sustainable Stillwater MN Chair Rick Heidick said, "Protecting Stillwater requires us to move forward in some way. This project as defined and approved by the Council creates the foundation to do that."

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