Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County carbon emissions data move on hold

Commissioner Peach says collection company biased

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners are considering how to track the county’s carbon footprint, but Commissioner Bill Peach doesn’t trust a company that was suggested to collect the data.

Commissioners are considering joining ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability for $1,200 per year, which would include access to software that is used for completing and monitoring greenhouse gas inventories.

The program, ClearPath, is used by the cities of Sequim and Port Angeles, officials said.

“One of the things that, if we move forward, we’ll be able to in concert with the cities is help ourselves as policy makers and help our citizens understand what we’re doing and what the impact of possible new strategies will look like,” said Commissioner Mark Ozias during a work session Monday.

Peach said he has “real reservations” about the organization, calling it biased.

The county partnered with the organization in 2009 and still has data from that year. For Peach, this was a reason not to use it again.

“I don’t agree with the organization and I’ll be very clear about that,” Peach said. “What I see is that they have a bias and what I want to know is what is the data they will collect.”

ICLEI works with more than 1,750 local and regional governments in more than 100 countries. It works to “influence sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based equitable, resilient and circular development,” according to its website.

ClearPath is used to develop emissions inventories, forecast future emissions, analyze the cost and benefits of emissions reduction measures, visualize scenarios and to track progress, according to its website.

“I don’t want biased data to be presented without our understanding of what that bias is,” Peach said.

Ozias pressed Peach to explain what the organization’s bias is.

“Let’s look at what they are providing and what they have done in the past,” Peach said. “Why did the county step away from this organization in the past? There is a reason.”

Peach said he wasn’t sure about the details as to why the county and ICLEI went separate ways, but he knows “there was a dust up among the commissioners,” he said.

The county ended its partnership with ICLEI in 2011 after critics said the organization violates the Constitution, threatens individual liberty and promotes the United Nations Agenda 21, a global action plan for sustainability, according to Peninsula Daily News archives.

ICLEI became a controversial topic in the summer of 2011 when a vocal group of citizens criticized the commissioners during two meetings that year. The Clallam County Republicans called on the county to cut ties, calling it a “needless expense.”

Peach said he is curious about the organization’s source for the data.

All data provided for the greenhouse gas emissions inventory would be inputted into the software by the county, said Rich Meier of the commissioners’ office.

“We provide all the data into the software, so we control all the assumptions that are going in,” Meier said. “We also have the ability to verify that data.”

Ozias repeatedly asked Peach what would make him more comfortable with using the ClearPath program.

“If we can’t start cataloging and communicating what our own carbon footprint is then we are not doing our jobs, frankly,” Ozias said. “This isn’t the only tool, but it is a widely accepted tool that every other partner in our region is using. Many hundreds of municipalities across the country are utilizing it.

“To me this is almost a no-brainer,” Ozias said. “I’m not sure what I can do to help improve your comfort level with this.”

Commissioner Randy Johnson said that though he has questions about the program, he is “not against going forward,” with it.

Peach asked to have a few weeks to research ICLEI before making a decision. The other commissioners agreed.

“I’ve got no problems with the process of gathering data with which to measure,” Peach said. “I do have a problem with biased data and that’s my concern.

“We walked away from these guys before. Why?”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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