Activists want new Kansas City climate plan passed without utility companies changing | KCUR 89.3

Kansas City aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, but to do so it must decommission Evergy’s Hawthorn coal-fired power plant in northeast Kansas City, the safety steering committee said Thursday. of the city’s climate to the Kansas City Council.

The final draft of the Climate Protection and Resilience Plan (CPRP)which has been in preparation since the last two yearswas featured on Thursday and calls for the expansion of utility-owned renewables, advocating for performance-based regulation for Evergy and shutting down the coal plant by 2025.

“To say publicly that Hawthorn should be closed by 2025 and that we need to move away from coal-fired plants will be vital,” said Billy Davies, conservation program coordinator for the Sierra Club of Missouri.

The committee urged the board to adopt the CPRP without change. The plan provides guidance for achieving carbon neutrality for city operations by the end of the decade and reducing the city’s overall carbon footprint.

“Now is the time for climate action,” said Andrew Savastino, the city’s environmental manager, during the presentation. “The community expects action to be taken at this point. Delaying action diminishes our impact, and we cannot afford to do nothing.

Gina Penzig, a spokeswoman for Evergy, said the company was working to make the Hawthorn plant more climate-friendly without downgrading it.

“Evergy supports the climate resilience plan in front of the city council,” Penzig said. “Evergy has reduced its carbon emissions by approximately 50% from 2005 levels. We continue to add renewable energy to our energy mix, including the planned addition of large-scale solar power to the Hawthorn Power Station. We believe that any sustainability plan must also consider reliability and affordability. »

The CPRP was set up after a 2019 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that projected catastrophic consequences for the planet if greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced.

The following year, the Kansas City Council ordered that its climate resilience plan, which had not been updated since 2008, be updated with new greenhouse gas targets. The climate emergency council statement in 2021 gave added urgency to the process.

“Our committee has focused on the impact on Kansas City, especially communities of color and those who have been most affected by pollution and environmental injustice for decades,” said committee chair Robin Ganahl. director and member of mothers in front. “We have worked to ensure that this plan improves the quality of life in these neighborhoods and reduces the cost of living, especially utility costs.”

Ganahl said it was important that community voices were incorporated into the plan.

“People who get kicked out of their neighborhoods and forced to move further away from jobs, amenities and public transportation are linked to our ability to reduce emissions,” Ganahl said. “So one of the things we have included in the plan is to call for even more green social housing to be built, especially in neighborhoods close to public transport, jobs and amenities so that more people can afford to stay and live there. quarters.”

The CPRP addresses six main areas in its quest for equity and carbon neutrality:

  • Reduce vehicle emissions by increase cycle and pedestrian lanes and public transport
  • Transition to renewable energies
  • Expand the city’s natural systems to include more trees and a sustainable water supply
  • Ensure homes and buildings have new “climate-resilient” construction
  • Increase production and access to local and healthy food
  • Reduce waste and divert it from landfills.

Stephen Mills, vice-chairman of Spire, said the company had not “seated at the table” when drafting the plan and asked that its concerns be taken into account.

“For the most part, we support the plan with some changes or amendments,” Mills said. “Two areas that we are really focusing on are areas that exclude or limit the use of natural gas. These particular areas promote equitable decarbonization of buildings, ensure efficient and climate-smart construction, and it’s really about updating building codes with just clean electricity.

But Davies said now Kansas City should reach temperatures as high as 125 degrees in the next 30 yearsit is important that the city adopts the plan.

“They have to pass it without amendments,” he said. “There will always be pressure in the coming weeks from people who have a fiduciary interest in the status quo. But here is a very robust comment period. It is important not to give in and pander to a particular interest.

1st District Council member Heather Hall said she wanted to know more about Spire and Evergy. But Adin Alem, a Sunrise Movement KC organizer, said they had heard enough from the utility companies.

“It’s kind of ironic because they’ve been here the whole time,” Alem said. “They also played a role in many policies at KC, particularly in relation to public services. All climate plans have been fundamentally disrupted by Spire and Evergy. To say where they are is a little ironic and dishonest about what’s really going on in KC.

The CPRP is open for public comment at City Hall on Wednesday, August 24 at 9 a.m. during the Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee meeting.

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