PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners have adopted a greenhouse gas-reduction policy with an eye toward applying for state and federal grants.
The county also plans to install six new electric vehicle charging stations at Port Angeles City Hall by December, citing incentives for employees who purchase electric vehicles and indicating a future option for a shift of the county fleet.
“While Clallam County has actually done quite a bit to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions in the last few years (installing modern HVAC systems, for example), it has been a more intentional focus the past couple of years,” Commission Chair Mark Ozias said. “There is definitely interest and concern about climate change and our climate impact throughout the county.”
The county is in the process of applying for a rural broadband access grant through the state Department of Commerce, one of many grants at both the state and federal levels that require a greenhouse gas policy.
Prior to Tuesday’s approval, Clallam County did not have such a policy.
“We believe that the policy adopted (Tuesday) is a good starting point, and we anticipate that our internal team will help us improve upon it as they begin their work,” Ozias said.
Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor and nitrous oxide, naturally occur within the atmosphere to trap heat. However, climate scientists believe human activity has produced and introduced more carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the atmosphere, altering Earth’s temperature and weather patterns and contributing to the climate crisis.
The county had begun work on a climate action plan in 2009, but the political makeup of the county board changed in 2012, and there was less interest to formally adopt a plan.
Commissioners hosted a string of events called the Jefferson Dinners to meet with constituents in 2019 and to learn what they would like to see the county do to combat climate change.
“One of the primary outcomes was a desire for our work to be data-driven, and we are currently organizing to partner with the City of Port Angeles to create, maintain and update a greenhouse gas inventory,” Ozias said. “We anticipate working with a consultant being brought in via the North Olympic Development Council who can help us review a variety of planning documents and policies to help us integrate effective strategies.
“We are also building an internal team, led through the WSU Extension and Clea Rome, to help build additional county-specific strategies to reduce our impact,” he added said.
The county also has surveyed its staff to consider using public transit or purchase an electric vehicle to commute, Ozias said.
“Clallam County conducted a survey of all employees to determine the interest and anticipated use of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) for incentivizing employees to switch to electric vehicles for commuting,” the greenhouse gas policy states. “Based on a positive response to the survey, six EVCS will be installed in the employee parking lot.
“With the installation of EVCS, Clallam County has the option of replacing a portion of the county fleet vehicles with electric vehicles,” the policy said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.