Opposing Columbia’s CAAP

Update: The original post below is based on the original 50-page CAAP proposal that was placed on the city’s website on April 22. An updated 103-page plan was placed on the city’s site on May 23. Many of the same questions below remain, however. This plan is still too expensive, too invasive and places too much of a burden on Columbia residents. It will also infringe on people’s personal rights and property rights.

Please contact Mayor Brian Treece and your councilperson by Monday, June 17 at 5 p.m., and urge them to vote “No” on what amounts to a “Green New Deal” for Columbia. This proposal will be voted on at the June 17 City Council meeting and we encourage you to attend that meeting and voice your opposition.

Note: A final-draft version was uploaded to the city’s website no earlier than June 5, 2019. This means the final draft will have less than two weeks of review before being voted upon.

Why Oppose?

  • On page 39 of the plan as it is currently online, the plan states that “this plan may be funded by increasing existing revenue sources or creating new ones.” So the city knows it will need to increase its revenue, a.k.a. taxes, to fund this plan already.
  • The Wedge Analysis on page 47 of the draft “Does not take costs of actions into consideration (i.e., assumes that the City will find and commit funding to the action). From where will the money come if a tax increase is voted down? If taken from other city services, what will be cut? Public safety? Road maintenance?
  • On page 51 of the updated plan, the statement is made that rebates and landlord requirements will help tenants spend less money on energy.  This ignores that fact that energy efficiency improvements cost money to implement and that these costs will be passed on to tenants in the form of increased rent.  It is not at all clear that the net effect will be to reduce costs overall for the tenant.
  • Under the proposed strategies in this section, H-1.1.4 appears to read that you will need the city’s input and possible permission to sell your home or transfer your property because they want to put an energy performance rating on your home’s listing. Will a city energy inspector need to visit your home to give it a passing grade before you can sell it?
  • Renewable programs increase the costs of electricity. A recent study published by the University of Chicago found that programs significantly increase average retail electricity prices, with prices increasing by 11 percent (1.3 cents per kWh) seven years after the policy’s passage into law and 17 percent (2 cents per kWh) twelve years afterward. All in all, seven years after passage, consumers in 29 states had paid $125.2 billion more for electricity than they would have in the absence of the programs. Columbians will pay more for their electricity.
  • Goal T-1.2.1 discusses building a thriving public transit system. There is absolutely no reason to believe that bus service can be made efficient enough to get a large number of people to ride. In fact, the city just cut a number of bus routes starting this week because of poor ridership. So as of now, the city is not even following their own CAAP goals.
  • The energy demand forecast on page 28 does not take into account anticipated future demand from electric vehicles. How can you plan for something when you don’t take everything into account? Will businesses and homeowners need to do even more energy saving beyond what is recommended/required to account for electric vehicles?
  • The City will have to “Build City staff capacity” to support this plan, so there are additional city workers that will need to be hired. If this proposal is a priority, per the letter from the Climate Task Force, will public safety personnel be let go in order to hire the city’s new Climate Patrol? Or will higher taxes be needed to pay for all this?
  • The city wants to encourage water conservation through a new rate structure and new building codes, but why? There is no water shortage. Does Columbia Water and Light exist to serve the residents of Columbia, or does is exist to dictate to them how much water they should use?
  • The current draft plan states that over 1,900 respondes to the community surveys. That is less than 2% of Columbia’s population. Did the city really get the entire community’s input for this plan? Or did they get the responses they wanted to hear? The Climate Task Force, from which they received citizen input, believes “combating climate change is the preeminent mission of our time.” Yet in the 2019 State of the City address, the interim city manager stated “residents thought were most important for the City to provide were public safety services and the condition of City streets.” Seems like conflicting messages being put out by the city.

These are just a few reasons to oppose this measure. Be sure to contact your city councilperson and Mayor Treece.

Sincerely,
Mike Zweifel
Chair, Boone County Republican Party


ORIGINAL POST: The Boone County Republican Party officially opposes the City of Columbia’s current Climate Action and Adaptation Plan for the following reasons:

  1. Increase of City staff (page 11 and page 28 of the CAAP draft) when there are already fiscal issues facing the city. Where will the money come from to fund new staff, when the city was projected to run a $21 million deficit for the 2019 fiscal year?1
  2. The Wedge Analysis on page 33 of the draft “Does not take costs of actions into consideration (i.e., assumes that the City will find and commit funding to the action). From where will the money come? If taken from other city services, what will be cut? Public safety? Road maintenance?
  3. Mandate that “all rental housing will be required to meet basic energy efficiency standards at license renewal.” The City will force rental property owners to upgrade their units, thereby causing higher costs that will result in rent increases for tenants. These rate increases may hurt economically disadvantaged renters. Or close complexes entirely if they are not at code, forcing people out of their residences. This provision works against the city’s goal of increasing affordable housing.
  4. There are many incentives listed throughout this document to help meet the goals of the plan. Where will the money come from to pay for these incentives to attain “behavior change”?
  5. “Building a thriving public transit system” is a priority strategy listed on page 41 of the proposal. However, the City is cutting back on its transit system by four routes, Saturday service and special event service as of June 1, 2019. If people are not riding the buses now, why will they in the future?
  6. Columbia is a work destination city and a visitor destination. Employees from all over Boone County and central Missouri drive to Columbia Monday-Friday to work at MBS, MU, State Farm, 3M, Boone Hospital and other employers. City visitors spend money each and every day in Columbia. The plan does not address these commuters and visitors. It treats them as afterthoughts when this plan will “prioritize people walking, biking, and riding transit while also accommodating vehicles.” These visitors generate tax revenue for the city to help pay for these programs, and this plan treats them as an inconvenience.
  7. Increase in business regulations (throughout listed goals) that will increase business costs which will be passed onto consumers.
  8. Require the use of roll carts for all single-family home solid waste services (page 44 of the CAAP draft). City voters rejected this idea in 2016. Mandatory roll carts were eliminated from the updated proposal.
  9. The energy demand forecast on page 23 does not take into account anticipated future demand from electric vehicles. Will businesses and homeowners need to do even more energy saving beyond what is recommended/required to account for electric vehicles?
  10. Wind and solar energy generation are dependent upon consistent conditions that are inconsistent at best in central Missouri. Is there a back-up plan when the sun is visible only 10 hours a day in winter and can’t recharge our homes for heat at night and cars to drive to work?
  11. Wind energy also has the very real potential to harm and kill avian wildlife, especially bald eagles that make their way through Boone County every year during their annual migration.
  12. The CAAP only considers the mid- to worst-case 4.5 C increase scenario at the year 2100 from the National Climate Assessment. The models projected 1.5 C to 4.5 C, but this plan only takes into account 3.0 – 4.5 C increases. Why plan for the absolute worst with its high costs when it may not happen, especially since recently observed temperatures are tracking at the 1.5 C level and below? According to NASA and other agencies, low sunspot activity and atmospheric observations might lead to a new “Little Ice Age”?3
  13. Renewable programs increase the costs of electricity. A recent study published by the University of Chicago found that programs significantly increase average retail electricity prices, with prices increasing by 11 percent (1.3 cents per kWh) seven years after the policy’s passage into law and 17 percent (2 cents per kWh) twelve years afterward. All in all, seven years after passage, consumers in 29 states had paid $125.2 billion more for electricity than they would have in the absence of the policy.4

This plan does not mention the word “litter”. One of the most immediate action items that can be taken right now to improve our environment is to pick up litter and trash along our roadways. Perhaps instead of paying monetary fines, the city municipal court could sentence those convicted of traffic violations and other similar charges to pick up litter along Columbia’s roads as community service, if the court is not doing that already. Providing an opportunity for community service could help those that are economically disadvantaged not go further into debt.

The Boone County Republican Party believes this plan cannot be implemented without a severe increase in cost to citizens, workers and visitors in the form of higher taxes, plus decreases to other essential city services like public safety. This plan will infringe on people’s property rights and personal rights if fully implemented. This plan is based on a worst-case scenario that based on historical data for the last 100+ years, will not happen.

Instead of government mandates on property owners, let property owners themselves determine if they want to build a green complex and use that as a selling point to potential tenants. The Boone County Republican Party supports market-based solutions to finding solutions to clean, renewable energy and environmental sustainability that will not increase people’s energy bills.

We also support legislation like Rep. Chuck Bayse’s House Bill 606 from this past legislative session, which would have allowed school children to ride city buses. Currently, all Missouri schoolchildren are mandated ride on standard yellow buses. This legislation would reduce overall fuel usage and allow Columbia Public Schools to spend their tax dollars in other areas.

We appreciate the current programs and services provided by the City of Columbia when it comes to safeguarding our environment. Many of us use the city-owned recycling and yard waste drop-off centers, parks and trails, and much more. But we believe this plan is too expensive, too invasive and too much.

Mike Zweifel
Chair, Boone County Republican Party

Sources:1 https://www.columbiatribune.com/news/20180918/council-passes-2019-budget-raises-city-employee-wages

2 https://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/elections/voters-kick-roll-carts-to-the-curb/article_5717f044-eb0c-11e5-9d7c-efbd895f7cb6.html

3 https://principia-scientific.org/nasa-extremely-low-sunspot-counts-indicate-global-cooling-onset/

4 https://epic.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/UCH-042219_GreenstoneRPS_0_0.pdf