Portland’s Green Success

Nicholas Kristoff writes in Today’s NY Times about a Green Success story, that Bush should read about and adopt for the country.

“In 1993, Portland became the first local government in the United States to adopt a strategy to deal with climate change. The latest data, released a few weeks ago, show the results: Greenhouse gas emissions last year in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, dropped below the level of 1990, and per capita emissions were down 13 percent.

This was achieved partly by a major increase in public transit, including two light rail lines and a streetcar system. The city has also built 750 miles of bicycle paths, and the number of people commuting by foot or on bicycle has increased 10 percent.

Portland offers all city employees either a $25-per-month bus pass or car pool parking. Private businesses are told that if they provide employees with subsidized parking, they should also subsidize bus commutes.

The city has also offered financial incentives and technical assistance to anyone constructing a “green building” with built-in energy efficiency.

Then there are innumerable little steps, such as encouraging people to weatherize their homes. Portland also replaced the bulbs in the city’s traffic lights with light-emitting diodes, which reduce electricity use by 80 percent and save the city almost $500,000 a year.

“Portland’s efforts refute the thesis that you can’t make progress without huge economic harm,” says Erik Sten, a city commissioner. “It actually goes all the other way – to the extent Portland has been successful, the things that we were doing that happened to reduce emissions were the things that made our city livable and hence desirable.”