Clean energy and climate change policy has a long ways to go in Idaho, but we have taken important steps towards beginning the conversation, removing barriers, and setting goals.
In recent years, Conservation Voters for Idaho has increased its involvement in clean energy and climate change policy. That work has contributed to historic success in the Legislature and in commitments from Idaho’s largest utility company and its largest city committing to 100% clean energy.
In 2018, CVI endorsed and supported Brad Little as the pro-clean energy and pro-conservation gubernatorial candidate.
Little’s vocal support for climate action changed the conversation in Idaho and opened new doors of opportunity at the Capitol this session. Governor Little reiterated his pro-conservation sentiments at the Idaho Environmental Forum (IEF) near the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. Also at the IEF, House Speaker, Scott Bedke signaled a willingness to engage in conversation about the impacts of “variations in long term weather patterns.” While he states that he and his colleagues aren’t in the same place as Governor Little on climate issues, Speaker Bedke acknowledged that things are changing in a very Idaho way by stating:
CVI helped facilitate these important conversations in the Statehouse with two important hearings. On Valentines Day, there was a hearing on electric vehicles and Governor Little officially declared February 14th as Electric Vehicle Day. A few weeks later, the Legislature took a monumental step forward by holding their first ever hearing on climate change and hosted experts from Hewlett Packard, the Idaho National Laboratory, Simplot, Boise State University and University of Idaho.
Simply starting the conversation on climate change and clean energy in Idaho were important accomplishments, but we saw those conversations turn into very real policy achievements. The Legislature passed a bipartisan bill to protect homeowners rights to place solar panels on their own property.
In addition to the legislation mentioned here, Governor Little’s leadership and the new willingness of the Legislature to engage in discussions related to conservation has helped foster a political climate for Idaho Power and the City of Boise to set aggressive goals to reach 100% clean energy by 2045 and 2035, respectively. These are monumental steps forward in a state where tackling climate change was unthinkable only a few years ago.
It is early in the process, and there is a long path ahead, but seeing acknowledgment of the science and the impacts of climate change as well as commitments to act is an essential step forward. CVI will continue to work throughout Idaho to make sure those conversations continue to turn into action.