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Ashland youth push city to ban fossil fuel infrastructure in new buildings

A crowd of people inside, some sitting down in the front and standing in the back. Some of the people are holding green paper signs that say "I support Ashland Youth for Electrification"
Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio
Members of the Rogue Climate Action Team hold signs in support of a proposed electrification ordinance in Ashland, March 21, 2023

A group of young climate activists in Ashland is pressuring the city to ban fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction.

The Ashland Youth for Electrification campaign is supported by the climate change focused non-profit Rogue Climate.

Members of the Rogue Climate Action Team spoke during Tuesday's city council meeting, where they proposed an ordinance similar to one in Eugene.

In February, Eugene became the first city in Oregon to require 100% electric construction in most new homes.

Ashland High School junior Mira Saturen said Ashland passed a climate action plan in 2017, but the city has failed to meet its targets.

“I think that this ordinance is a really good way of actually doing that and reducing the city’s fossil fuel emissions," Saturen said.

Electrification ordinances aren't uncommon. New York City, Los Angeles and the State of Washington all have some form of fossil fuel restrictions on new construction.

“It also doesn’t make sense to be building using gas right now when we know we’re going to have to retrofit down the line already to reach our energy goals," said Ashland High School senior Anya Moore. "And so building all-electric from the get-go makes sense.”

Moore says many of the people on the council ran on climate change issues so she’s hopeful this ordinance will get support.

Moore says it’s likely the city’s Climate Policy Commission would review the proposed ordinance before the city council adopts it.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.