La Crosse looks to educate residents on financial benefits of renewable energy

It’s a routine for commuters and businesses to operate on fossil fuel, but for some the continued use of gas could be “the meteor that’s headed towards earth,” according to Cathy Van Maren.

Van Maren is a part of the Sustainable La Crosse Commission that proposed the clean energy plan, hoping to reduce carbon emissions gradually until La Crosse is completely carbon neutral by 2050.

The plan was sent to city council, who amended the proposal to make the final plan as apolitical as possible.

“Some people automatically think ‘well you have to be a liberal to be a part of this.’ I think we’ve taken a good step to challenge that,” explained Barb Janssen, City Council Member representing District 3.

“We each have our own reasons. My reason may be because I’m concerned with global warming and climate crisis. But just as valid are concerns of health, finances and jobs,” added Van Maren.

City Council is looking into ways to appeal to a La Crosse resident’s wallet, instead of their political base.

“There’s going to be a challenge to just educate people and help people understand that this is a good option. We save money and it’s good for the earth,” explained Janssen.

Janssen applied some greener aspects to her own life and has seen positive results.

“I’ve already seen the benefits of air sealing my house, insulating it to the new standard, putting a sustainable roof on my home. If we can help people see that, it’s just going to have a domino effect.”

The city understands it can’t force its residents to go green, but hopes economic benefit is enough to get the ball rolling.

“The cost part of it is huge, no matter your political beliefs, you can’t argue with the numbers,” added Janssen.

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