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Omaha votes in support of climate action plan, a process that has already started

Posted at 6:34 PM, Nov 23, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The City of Omaha has begun taking steps to put together a climate action plan and got a jolt of support Tuesday after the city council voted to support one.

While many Midwestern cities including Kansas City, Minneapolis and Lincoln have climate action plans, Omaha is without one.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has already begun the process of putting together a climate action plan after the Omaha City Council worked with the Lincoln City Council last week. Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen wanted to express the council's support for one.

High school student Isabella Manhart believes a climate action plan should have been put together decades ago.

“Omaha can’t continue to pretend that we’re making progress when we’re really dragging our feet on crucial issues,” said Manhart.

The plan is in draft form now. Festersen said it could include anything from slowing carbon emissions to watching the city’s purchases to re-evaluating plastic bags in grocery stores. While it may cost plenty of money in the long run, he says it’s the right thing to do.

“This will require some resources upfront for implementation but I also think these efforts, when they’re done well, really do save money — especially when it's the right thing to do for our climate and for our environment,” said Festersen.

Festersen said it could be an 18-month time frame before a plan is formalized but says he’ll push to make the process faster.

Manhart implored city leaders to quicken the pace and bring on young people like herself when making the plan.

“Not only are we the major stakeholders in what the future of our community looks like but we’re already doing this work in Omaha,” said Manhart.

The only council member to vote no was Aimee Melton.

“I do think the devil’s in the details and I have a lot more questions,” said Melton.

Melton worries about the potential unknown cost and wants to ensure a wide range of community members are involved because the plan would affect many different sectors.

“And I think a lot more people should have some input in this before we just blindly say we want a climate action plan at any cost,” said Melton.

Mayor Stothert said in a press conference, earlier in the day, that the city has already begun purchasing more climate-friendly vehicles and that council support is okay but unnecessary.

“I think it’s fine if Council President Festersen wants to say we want a climate action plan but we’re already doing it.”

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