A resolution supporting the principles of the Green New Deal was approved Tuesday by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on a split vote that reflected the philosophical and sociological ideologies of the board members.
Following comments by 14 members of the public, prepared statements from two supervisors and additional comments from the other three, the board adopted the resolution on a 3-2 vote, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam and Chairman and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino dissenting.
Public comments were also split, with eight opposed to the resolution and six in favor.
However, it appeared all the comments and discussion failed to change the opinions of the supervisors or members of the public who either supported or opposed the resolution — a point Lavagnino pointed out in explaining why he doesn’t like “honorary resolutions.”
The resolution, introduced at the supervisors’ last meeting by 1st District Supervisor Das Williams and 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, includes in its “whereases” that the county has faced “unprecedented extreme weather patterns in the past decade, which was also the hottest on record, including prolonged drought, extreme and intense wildfires, a year-round fire season, and a deadly debris flow preceded by a torrential one-in-200-year storm burst.”
It refers to U.S House and Senate resolutions known as the “Green New Deal” intended to result in federal policies to transform the American economy to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2030 “in the spirit of the federal New Deal policies implemented during the Great Depression.”
The resolution then resolves that the board “recognizes that we are already experiencing the adverse consequences of climate change, and that we understand the urgency of the federal government to lead in creating public policies to advance clean and renewable energy infrastructure implementation, and to transform the American economy to support a strong middle class and save our planet.”
But the resolution didn’t include any specific projects or programs for the county to undertake, which one public speaker criticized and 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart alluded to when he said he would “rather see us spend time doing constructive projects,” calling the resolution “very moderate.”
In his prepared statement, Adam said he was “disturbed and disappointed” in the public comments, especially by the younger people, and listed global disasters predicted in the 1960s and ‘70s that never came to pass.
But he took particular offense to a statement Hartmann made at the last meeting comparing those who take no action on global warming to those who failed to oppose the atrocities carried out by the Nazis, saying Hartmann was “demonizing me” and trying to “shame me into saying what is politically correct.”
“I never felt so viciously and wrongly attacked by a colleague” and as “unreasonably … treated in my six years on this dais,” Adam said.
“I will not lower my eyes, I will not shut up, I will not shy from my duty,” he later added. “I will tell you all when I think you are wrong.”
Without responding to Adam’s comments, Hartmann said “it’s becoming untenable to just say no” to global warming.
“Denial and dismissiveness is not the way to deal with it,” she said.
But Williams did respond, saying when Hartmann asks a rhetorical question to stimulate thought and conversation, “it’s not an attempt at bullying.”
“To me, the crisis of the age is climate change,” he said, later adding, “This [resolution] is a symbolic act over this.”
In response to some who said the county needs to take action, Lavagnino said, “This county has not ignored climate change. We spent over $1 million on this 300-page climate change action plan [that calls for the county to] reduce greenhouse gas emissions below 15% by 2020.”
But he said policies must be balanced.
“How long before we are told we can’t eat meat anymore?” he asked. “How long before we’re told we can’t use the fireplace in our homes? … If you think it can’t happen, try getting a straw in Santa Barbara.”