MICHIGAN CITY – You may doubt global warming, but you must admit it's been raining a lot outside, not to mention the wild swings in temperature over the last several weeks.
That's partly why Mayor Ron Meer is excited about a collaboration with Indiana University in which an intern and city officials will spend the summer collecting information about greenhouse gas emissions. Michigan City was named one of 13 communities to take part in IU's first Resilience Cohort.
Findings from the community-wide inventory will help residents and officials understand Michigan City’s emissions profile, and help city employees create an action plan to reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency and improve air quality, the mayor said.
"Findings from the local government operations inventory will help city employees identify greenhouse gas reduction strategies for municipal activities," Meer said. It's a joint effort with the city's Sustainability Commission.
“This city is passionate about the environment. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life for our citizens," Meer said. "This project will give us a strategy on where to begin to act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
A greenhouse gas inventory is a fundamental first step for cities, towns and counties committed to combating the climatic changes communities in Indiana are already experiencing, such as heavier rainfalls in spring and winter, more river and flash flood events, and more freeze-thaw events wreaking havoc on transportation infrastructure and potholes, according to Ellen Ketterson, director of IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute.
“We are delighted that these 13 communities have chosen to take a critical early step on the path to reducing carbon emissions and enhancing air quality,” Ketterson said. “The findings from these greenhouse gas inventories will provide a roadmap for local officials to address emissions produced in their own backyards, improve public health, and strengthen the resilience of Hoosier communities.”
The inventory process will provide data from 2017 to present on the amount of energy consumed, the diversity of energy supplied to the grid, vehicle fuel use, the amount of waste generated and other data, Meer said.
"It's been raining every day," he pointed out, "and water and storm runoff control is just one of the things it will address. That's part of it, along with energy consumption, air quality and water quality."
The Resilience Cohort was established by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative. As part of the Cohort, Michigan City will have access to technical resources, a peer network, and training through ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, a nonprofit that specializes in helping local governments with inventories.
A partnership with Sustain IU’s Indiana Sustainability Development Program is providing eight of the 13 communities with summertime externs – including Michigan City – to help with data collection and processing.
Abhishek Jagdale is a first-year MSES-MPA graduate student at O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington. He is majoring in Sustainability and Environmental Management, and will be working with the city through July 26, reporting to City Controller Richard Murphy.
"The intern is here and working now," said Meer, who anticipates the inventory will be done by the completion of the Resilience Cohort on Sept. 15. The mayor wished to thank NIPSCO for a $1,000 donation that will go toward Jagdale's stipend.
“I am thrilled that the Resilience Cohort was launched this summer as part of the Indiana Sustainability Development Program," Director of Sustain IU Andrew Predmore said. "Not only are these students developing professionally through work experiences, but they are making real sustainability contributions by doing the foundational work needed to seriously address the challenges posed by climate change.”
Along with Michigan City, Cohort participants include Bloomington, Carmel, Columbus, Delaware County/Muncie, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Greencastle, Goshen, Oldenburg, Richmond and West Lafayette.
As part of its environmental initiative, the city will also be hosting its annual Conference on the Environment on June 7 at the Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa.