Lincoln Environmental Action Plan
The Lincoln City Council hearing on this resolution is
Monday, December 18, 2017, at 5:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers
555 South 10th St, Lincoln, NE 68508
Find your Council Member's contact information here.
After Community Feedback, Environmental Action Plan Headed to Council
Mayor Chris Beutler today released the final Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (LEAP) to guide City action in the areas of energy, land use, transportation, waste and water. The LEAP will be introduced at the City Council meeting Monday, December 11 and includes changes suggested by the community since the draft plan was released in July. The Council will have a public hearing and vote on the LEAP Monday, December 18. The final plan is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: LEAP).
Mayor Beutler thanked the hundreds of people who provided feedback on the plan at the open house and through the City website. He said Lincoln residents want more recycling; more energy savings; increased use of renewable energy; transportation improvements and Smart City technologies; smart use of the water supply; and trails, parks and street trees that support a high quality of life.
"Their responses confirm that our community continues to push for a Cleaner and Greener Lincoln," Beutler said. "Our community wants these things not only because we know it's the right thing to do for our children and future generations. We want them because the people in our community know these things are helping - right now today - to build Lincoln into a city on the forefront of technology, entrepreneurship, economic innovation and a high quality of life."
Suggested changes in the final plan include:
- a new strategy to streamline the permitting and review for solar energy facilities;
- a more comprehensive strategy that includes areas surrounding the urban core, such as Wilderness Park, saline wetlands and prairie corridors;
- increased metrics to demonstrate improvements associated with the Green Light Lincoln project;
- Increased support for electric vehicles, transit and biking; and
- More aggressive goals to reduce solid waste going into the City landfill.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Mayor's Environmental Task Force, consisting of 34 people representing environmental interests, utilities, businesses and residents, assisted the City's Cleaner Greener Lincoln Sustainability Administrator Frank Uhlarik in preparing the initial draft. The Mayor's Office reviewed the Task Force work and created the Plan's framework. The Plan was shared with the City Council and several provided input to the draft that is being made public today.
Future costs will depend on how much of the Plan is implemented in the upcoming biennial budget and future budgets. Some elements of the Plan save money. For instance, LED streets lights will use less electricity, reducing a cost paid by City taxpayers. Other elements are long term costs for which the City must plan. The removal and replacement of Ash trees destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borer is a challenge that may cost tens of millions of dollars over 20 years. The Plan's costs and savings will be weighed against the City's other needs as we develop future City budgets.
The Plan sets performance indicators that allow the community to measure progress toward our goals. The City will initiate a web page where residents can check on progress, view plan updates, and learn about how they can get involved in making Lincoln a cleaner, greener community.
While the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department has conducted GHG emission inventories since 2008, 2011 is the first year that a uniform and streamlined calculation method has been utilized which can be consistently and efficiently measured and reported in the years to come.
How much will it cost and what kind of savings does the City anticipate from conversion of the streetlight system to LED technology?
Preliminary estimates from LES and various energy consultants range from $10 to $15 Million with simple paybacks ranging from eight to twelve years. As the costs of LED technology continues to drop along with competitive volume - based pricing, we anticipate this payback period will become even more attractive. LED street lights provide better illumination and more effective lighting providing additional public safety benefits as well.
We anticipate a significant reduction in fuel usage by retiring older vehicles and replacing them with new, more efficient models. We are also evaluating pool management tools and idle reduction methodologies to further improve vehicle utilization and efficiency. Lastly – we will continue to invest in hybrid and electric vehicles, and other equipment fueled by renewable and compressed natural gas in order to pursue this goal.
Why is the City worried about the emerald ash borer? It's not even been detected in the State, has it?
The Emerald Ash Borer has been working its way non-stop across the country. It is known to be in Iowa and has been detected in Omaha and Greenwood, NE. Cities that failed to plan ahead suffered devastating effects from rapid tree death and the associated economic and safety impacts.
We are looking at ways to re-use and recycle the wood in a variety of ways from furniture to mulch to energy generation.
Locally grown food reduces energy costs for transportation, improves air quality, increases wellness and nutrition and builds community in neighborhoods.
Green Light Lincoln is an initiative being undertaken by the City of Lincoln Traffic Engineering Division to improve traffic flow and traffic safety city wide. The focus of the effort is improvement of the overall traffic management system including implementation of new signal equipment, technologies, and updated traffic signal timing plans at all intersections. This multi-phase project is good for the environment in that it will reduce vehicle fuel consumption, emissions, and idling, resulting in less carbon monoxide and improved air quality citywide.
Recycling extends the life of the landfill, boosts the local economy and conserves resources for the future. Nearly 40% of the Municipal Solid Waste that arrives at the landfill is recyclable material. It makes no sense to pay to bury it when you could use those same resources to put it back into use as new products.
Yes. Since the landfill opened in 1988, there are a number of materials that have been diverted away from Lincoln's landfill to better processing sites. These include: waste oil; lead acid batteries; tires; appliances (refrigerators, air conditioners, washers and dryers); and grass and leaves (seasonally). These steps have helped extend the life of the current landfill. Corrugated cardboard would be the next step.
We first want to take time to make sure the cardboard diversion is implemented effectively and smoothly next year in April of 2018. We will analyze the effectiveness of the program and evaluate next steps after that. The next logical step for recycling would be newspaper and then other paper, but we want to see what happens with cardboard first.
Where else would the City look for water if the Ashland wellfield can't serve the City's future needs?
Lincoln has always planned well for the future and our Ashland wellfield is a great example. As we look out 50 years, our growing city will need to develop additional resources. The Missouri River is one option. We will continue to explore ideas and communicate with other municipalities and districts moving forward.
I remember when the City had to implement water restrictions a few years ago. How is our water supply doing now?
Rainfall has been good the last few years and current water levels are good. Good planning, however, means that we have to continue to look for both ways to conserve and expanded resources for the future.