In my opinion, Commissioners Mark Kujala and Lianne Thompson’s vote to abstain on the climate resolution was only nominally about process.
Why were they silent about not being included in the resolution’s crafting during the agenda discussion at the work session prior to the board meeting and vote? Their call for a more inclusive process was more likely an effort to postpone action on climate change.
Both commissioners are savvy enough to know that the incoming commissioners, Courtney Bangs and John Toyooka, were supported by #TimberUnity, described by The Astorian as a “conservative group that has fought climate change legislation in Salem.” Once on the commission, their presence would make passing a climate resolution very unlikely.
While Commissioner Thompson’s call to “include everyone” in the crafting of a climate resolution sounds like bedrock democracy, the higher good resides in the statement of Commissioner Sarah Nebeker, who said, “there is a time to take a stand and to show leadership, and not wait for everybody to agree or to achieve a consensus.”
That is especially true at a moment when the vast majority of climate scientists have proclaimed an emergency that must be dealt with now.
To their credit, by not voting against the resolution, Thompson and Kujala tacitly acknowledge its importance. But a resolution isn’t much without an action plan. Action is what the public is calling for. The new commission will have ample opportunity to show how inclusive and transparent they can be in taking action to mitigate the climate crisis.