I’ve been waiting for someone to write this article.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is rightfully lauded for kicking off the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which now has 326 mayors committed to helping their cities meet Kyoto emissions targets. It’s a BFD, and Nickels will earn a small place in history for it.
Still. It’s always been my sense that the initiative was cooked up by clever and persuasive staffers in the mayor’s office, and that Nickels was, in Forrest Gumpian fashion, in the right place at the right time. I don’t think he’s really taken a concern about global-warming emissions to heart.
As Barnett points out in her article, most of Seattle’s electricity comes from clean hydropower, so for us reducing emissions means one thing: reducing the amount we drive. If Nickels was serious about his commitment, that would be his consistent focus.
But he helped get the Monorail killed, he’s pushing for a massive tunnel to replace the crumbling viaduct, and he’s on board with a whole panoply of road expansions, which not only will not only increase vehicle miles but squander enormous sums that could be spent on public transit, bike lanes, etc. Also, 75% of Seattle is zoned residential — that should be 25% max, IMO, and the rest should be mixed use. Nickels has shown no signs of wanting to tackle that political hot potato.
I’m afraid those looking for true-blue climate heroes may have to look elsewhere, at least for now.