Letters from the West

‘It’s about crops and jobs in Idaho.’ Hear climate change experts speak Wednesday

Rep. Ilana Rubel talks with lobbyist Bill Roden, at a House State Affairs Committee in 2015. She is hosting the climate change meeting Wednesday at the Capitol.
Rep. Ilana Rubel talks with lobbyist Bill Roden, at a House State Affairs Committee in 2015. She is hosting the climate change meeting Wednesday at the Capitol. Idaho Statesman

When Boise legislator Ilana Rubel was told she couldn’t have a hearing before the House Energy and Technology Committee, she decided to have a hearing on her own.

The result is an informational hearing on climate change that Rep. Rubel will host in the Lincoln Auditorium in the Capitol Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

Rubel had sought repeatedly to get a hearing in the House Energy Committee, but Chairman Dell Raybould did not consider the issue of climate change significant enough to take committee time. The Rexburg Republican told Rubel, a Democrat, he would support her having an informational meeting in the larger Lincoln Auditorium.

Rubel accepted his alternative and will bring some of the state’s top experts on the causes and effects of climate change to the meeting.

“This issue is not just about rising ocean levels and polar bears — it’s about crops and jobs in Idaho. Idaho’s leaders must assess the risk ahead and take steps to address it, not hide their heads in the sand,” Rubel said.

These experts include John Abatzoglou a geography professor at the University of Idaho, Jennifer Pierce, a geosciences professor at Boise State University, Kerrie Weppner, who teaches about climate change at BSU and Scott Lowe, an economics professor and director of the environmental studies program at BSU.

They will talk about what’s happening now, what’s ahead, and what we can we do about it. The forum will have legislators, scientists and business leaders from around Idaho examine how changing climate conditions are affecting agriculture, fire, activity, water, wildlife, recreation and the economy.

Bill Kaage, chief of the National Park Service Division of Fire and Aviation Management, and Kevin King, board member of the Idaho Clean Energy Association, are among the speakers.

“Taking steps to address climate change and plan for its impacts is not only the responsible thing to do, it carries economic benefits for our citizens,” Rubel said. “Idaho doesn’t have coal or oil, but we have a lot of sun, wind and geothermal energy. Developing renewable energy resources will bring jobs and wealth to Idaho.”

The hearing will be streamed live: http://idahoptv.org/INSESSION/ and archived after 24 hours at http://idahoptv.org/insession/archive.cfm .

A new study out of the University of Idaho and Columbia University shows human-caused climate change doubled size of wildfires in West.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

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