Durkan signs executive order with Green New Deal actions

This afternoon Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an executive order specifying several actions that her administration will take in “Advancing a Green New Deal for Seattle.”

Last year the City Council passed a Green New Deal resolution and established an Oversight Board for GN-related work by the city.

The resolution lists many actions, including studying the feasibility of the city purchasing renewal natural gas for use in buildings and the city’s transportation fleet; and writing a “Green New Deal budget memo” as part of the annual budget process. But in a signing ceremony, Durkan chose to highlight two specific items:

  1. All new and substantially altered city-owned building “shall operate without using fossil fuel systems and appliances.” That includes HVAC, water heating, and cooking systems.
  2. A task force represennting the Mayor’s “capital subcabinet,” the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, Seattle City Light, and the City Budget Office will work with all city departments to develop a plan to eliminate fossil fuel use in city-owned buildings. A draft of the plan is due by July 1, with the final plan delivered by January 1, 2021.

Durkan, flanked by department heads, city officials, and community leaders, began the ceremony with a shout-out to three young climate activists sitting in the front row: Maria Suchoski and Zoe Schurman from Fridays for Future; and Parisa Harvey from Washington Climate Strike who also serves as co-chair of the Seattle Youth Commission. The three, however, did not return the love; they told Durkan, “We won’t stand with you until we see bold climate action.”

Maria Suchoski, Zoe Schurman and Parisa Harvey, three young climate activists who let Mayor Durkan know that they are looking to her for “bold climate action.”

Durkan applauded them for their statement, and for her part, she seemed to agree with them. “I am saddened that we have to have an executive order like this,” she said. “I feel that our generation has not done what it needs to do for the next generation, and I refuse not to take steps.”

However, Durkan balked — at least for the moment — at moving forward with an ordinance requiring privately owned buildings to transition away from fossil fuels, as former Council member Mike O’Brien proposed last year for all new construction in the city. Durkan said that she had debriefed the issue with O’Brien, and she believes it would require further dialogue with community organizations, particularly those running community kitchens and other facilities where the cost of transitioning could be burdensome. Durkan also noted that the city is discussing this issue with Seattle Public Schools as well as other opportunities to invest in energy efficiency, but that many of the school district’s buildings have historical landmark restrictions that limit the changes that can be made (including installing energy-efficient windows).

Durkan also used the signing ceremony to highlight $250,000 of grant funding issued to seven environmental justice projects, that was announced earlier today.

Newly-seated Council member Andrew Lewis stood behind Durkan among the other city officials during the signing ceremony, while Council member Tammy Morales, who also took her oath of office yesterday, watched from the audience.

Council member Andrew Lewis (right) chatting with SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe before the signing ceremony.

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