February Climate & Energy News


Attacks on Multi-modal Transportation

In a coordinated effort to undermine Ada County Highway District’s ability to fund the bicycle, pedestrian, and public transit infrastructure that Ada County residents are asking for, legislators have introduced House Bills 50, 55, and 87. Each of these bills include language that requires funding to “benefit primarily motor vehicles,” excluding forms of transportation such as bicycling, public transit, walking, and other ways of getting around. 

CVI believes that transportation is meant to benefit residents, not motor vehicles. Communities should have the power to build their transportation grids in the way that works best for their residents. Those priorities should not be dictated by the legislature, but by the elected officials that residents elected to make their transportation decisions. We will have more information on how to take action on these bills soon! 

Funding for Cleantech Workforce Training

In a more positive move by the legislature, House Bill 24 passed in the House this week. This bill creates a grant program that will provide 12,000 graduating Idaho students with $8,500 grants to be redeemed at the workforce training provider, career technical program, community college, or college of their choice. The program will have a focus on in-demand careers, which will be essential for the rapidly growing cleantech industry in Idaho. Idaho desperately needs a workforce that can support energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy construction, solar installation and more. 

With a narrow 36-34 passage through the House, CVI is proud to know that this bill would not have passed without the dedicated work of CVI and our supporters in the May and November elections. Please check the final House vote below to see how your Representative voted. 

Bringing Back Passenger Rail

After Mayor McLean and her staff kicked off the discussion last year, we have seen continued support for bringing passenger rail lines back to Idaho. The main line that will go from Boise to Salt Lake City has gathered near unanimous support both in the Treasure Valley and across the state. 

As Boise Metro Chamber President Bill Connors explained; “I don’t think there has been an issue in my 14 years that I’ve heard more agreement on than this one. It takes cars off the road. It eases congestion. It does all those things to help the healthy conduct of commerce. That’s what we’re all about.”

With the ample funding provided by the two recent federal infrastructure bills, there is also a strong potential for a north-south passenger rail line within Idaho and a line that continues West to the coast. We are thankful for the support of Mayor McLean and other leaders throughout the Treasure Valley and Idaho, and look forward to supporting these projects in any way we can. 

Valley Regional Transit

CVI would like to congratulateElaine Clegg on her new role as the CEO of Valley Regional Transit. As Boise City Council President, Clegg served our community as a leader in transportation and climate policy. Her extensive experience and relationships will be an incredible asset for building the transit system the Treasure Valley needs to handle our rapid growth. 

However, our state needs funding to make it happen. As Clegg notes, “We are the only state in the United States that doesn’t support transit at a state level. We’re one of the few that doesn’t allow a dedicated source of funding for transit. A lot of people are beginning to understand what a barrier that is to growing in the way we want to.”

Note: VRT’s Connected Canyon County public input process is open through February 17th. If you live in Canyon County, there are three ways to participate. 

Other News:

Climate and the Health of our Gem: Protecting Coeur d’Alene Lake

Lava Ridge Wind Farm: Draft EIS Released

OEMR: Sign up for federal funding updates