EVANSVILLE — Acknowledging the accelerating rate of climate change, the Evansville City Council adopted a resolution to shift 100 percent renewable energy for city government operations by 2050.

The non-binding resolution was adopted on a 7-2 vote at Monday's meeting. Council members Justin Elpers and John Hayden voted no.

"I think it's a great idea," Hayden said. "But there are some very definitive statements (in the resolution) that I don't think we can make, and I don't agree with, either." 

Elpers said he disagrees with climate change.

The resolution is a pledge to reduce the city's carbon footprint and increase residents' overall health and wellbeing. 

It urges the city to provide more green infrastructure such as urban tree canopies, green streets and roofs, bike and pedestrian paths and electric vehicle charging stations.

Back in 2018, the city entered a lease agreement with Vectren, a CenterPoint company, for a 2-megawatt solar array project located near the northwest corner of Oak Hill Cemetery on Morgan Avenue. The energy company is leasing the city land for $500,000 over 25 years. 

Through the resolution, the city is expected to look for other energy resources and programs focusing on those that benefit low-income residents.

"This is a no-brainer," councilman Dan McGinn said. "A 32-year resolution encourages the city and shows that we care about our children and grandchildren."

Councilman H. Dan Adams co-authored the resolution with McGinn, who read it during the meeting, in its entirety, for public record.

McGinn said he didn't write the resolution, and recieved help from the Sierra Club.

Wendy Bredhold, a senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said the organization didn't have involvement in drafting the resolution.

"But we do think it's a good first step for the city," Bredhold said.

City Council Attorney Joshua Claybourn mentioned city resident Bart Heath's involvement when asked about the resolution's conception. 

"(Heath) has been attending City Council meetings for quite some time to speak on environmental issues," Claybourn said. "He has likely spoken before City Council more than any other individual over the past few years."

Claybourn said Heath provided sample resolutions and other information from Sierra Club's website, but drafts did not officially come from the organization.

The resolution said building a community-based environmental framework can benefit the entire city by providing jobs, economic activity and equity benefits.

Similar proposals have been introduced in Tallahassee, FloridaVentura County, California, and the village of Pittsford in New York state.

An email request sent to Vectren, a CenterPoint company, seeking comment about the resolution was not immediately returned.

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