A climate alliance: Columbus, Bloomington and Nashville leaders to work together on climate change

NASHVILLE Leaders from Columbus, Bloomington and Nashville gathered Friday to announce a new climate initiative that they acknowledged requires both urgency and a deliberate, multi-year process for the communities to work together to set goals and policy.

The leaders, including Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, unveiled a proposed regional climate action plan called the Project 46 Southern Indiana Regional Climate Alliance, a nod to the state highway that provides a vital link between all three communities.

Lienhoop said he expects Columbus City Council to hear a resolution in April adopting the goals of the project. Leaders also hope that each community represented in the working group will dedicate 50 cents per resident per year to fund a three-year initiative, which for Columbus would be roughly $25,000 annually.

Leaders also said they hope that other public, private, civic, business and nonprofit groups will contribute to the effort, which is still in the formative stage.

“We’re going to do this partly because it’s the right thing to do,” Lienhoop said, adding, “to a certain extent, this can be a competitive advantage for our communities. People want this kind of effort to address climate and want this kind of activity to occur in the communities they live in.

“I believe that we all understand in this day and age that people get to choose, to a much greater extent than before, where they live,” he said. “So they want communities to have this kind of forethought.

“… Part of what I would hope we would get out of this is to see a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that we can track in our community so that we can demonstrate a measurable impact from our efforts, number one,” Lienhoop said.

“Number two, I would hope that we could serve as a model for others,” he said.

Underlying the gathering were recent headlines on both the international and local fronts.

Nashville Town Council member Anna Hofstetter opened the meeting by observing, “Brown County schools are closed today, which is very ironic for flooding.

“We’ve seen the UN report from Tuesday,” she said, “so I don’t need to convince anyone here of the horrors. We are here for solutions.”

For the complete story and more photos, see Saturday’s Republic.