By JANET ST. CLAIR
Island County commissioner
As we see record breaking temperatures across our nation this summer, I want to take a moment to recognize this as an impact of climate change and take a moment to talk about what Island County has been doing in response.
In September 2022, the Board of Island County Commissioners passed a Climate Resolution with a commitment to specific actions that align with science, reduce greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions and strengthen resiliency.
Less than a year later, I am pleased to report the following:
1. We completed our Northwest Clean Air Agency grant-funded study to update our GHG baseline study from 2011 and reported on the recommendations, beginning to incorporate those recommendations into a climate action plan.
2. As a small county, our capacity is constrained. We chose to contract with a statewide company to build an operational plan with specific recommendations to reduce GHG emissions, improve energy efficiency and build resiliency.
3. Our facilities director, Ryan Beach, received a $1 million grant from Washington State Department of Commerce to address climate mitigation and begin implementation of those recommendations, including the replacement of an outdated diesel boiler in our HVAC system.
4. Recently, the commissioners approved a contract to begin that work as well as several other actions to improve energy efficiency and protect our historic Island County Courthouse (now Administration Building) in Coupeville.
5. Island County also received a grant for electric vehicle charging stations and construction of those EV stations on Camano Island is near completion.
6. Working collaboratively with other municipalities, Island County is now pursuing a Climate Resilience Regional Challenge Grant with NOAA.
These are just some of the actions we have taken as a result of the advocacy and effort to assure our local government acknowledges and addresses climate change impacts. The board has also implemented a “Climate in All Policies” lens for our policy work so we align our work with the values in our climate resolution.
I will continue to support this work as well as other environmental priorities such as shoreline protections, forest stewardship and conservation. I appreciate your continued advocacy, particularly on the thorny challenges where there are inter-jurisdictional complexities with our partners in state and federal government.
Janet St. Clair represents North Whidbey and Camano Island as an Island County commissioner.