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Coalition of King County Cities Adopt Formal Goals In Climate Pact

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Bellamy Pailthorp
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KPLU
The Weyerhaeuser-King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way now has the largest installation of a Washington-made solar array.

Small communities can be laboratories for societal change. That was one of the messages as a coalition of cities in King County celebrated commitments they’ve made to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Leaders representing more than 60 percent of the county’s population have now signed on to goals outlined by the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration.

“We cannot wait for action on the federal level,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who announced the goals at the Weyerhauser-King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, where the state's largest installation of a Washington-made solar array is one of many recent efficiency upgrades. 

Constantine says local agencies are the ones that face the consequences of climate change, and ones that can also demonstrate solutions. He says the goals set by cities in the coalition include everything from reaching recycling rates of 70 percent over the next five years to reducing urban sprawl and protecting forests.

“We’re on track to hit the goal I set, this year, for reducing King County’s energy use by 15 percent and getting at least half of our energy needs from renewable sources,” Constantine said.

In addition to celebrating the formal goals, the coalition welcomed two new cities: Bellevue and Burien. The cities' representatives said they hope membership would help spur more community engagement and buy in for climate-friendly policies and projects. 

"People don't necessarily prioritize thinking about reducing their carbon footprint or taking public transit or doing things that protect the environment," said Burien Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta, adding membership might help the city find ways to restore recently cut metro bus service in her community, or better adapt without it. "You should be able to walk,  catch a bus, ride your bike — and not have to get in your vehicle," Tosta said.

Burien and Bellevue join Seattle, Shoreline, Issaquah, Redmond, Kirkland, Renton, Tukwila, Snoqualmie and Mercer Island in the coalition. Representatives of the existing member cities said collective action has already spurred several community solar projects as well as more energy efficient buildings and LED streetlights. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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