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West Lafayette approves Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan

FILE PHOTO. Council president Peter Bunder criticized Purdue University for not participating in the Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan (WBAA News/Ben Thorp).

The West Lafayette City Council approved a climate action plan for the Greater Lafayette region Tuesday.

The plan, which has been in the works for over two years, outlines a number of steps the city can take to reduce carbon emissions and generally make the area more environmentally friendly.

Council President Peter Bunder noted that the plan had buy-in from the city of Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County - but wasn’t endorsed by Purdue University.

“We need Purdue’s cooperation,” he said. “It is good that members of the Purdue community are listed in there as contributing their expertise to this plan, but it would be nice to know the university shares the community’s interest in climate change.”

Bunder specifically pointed to the Wade Power Plant at Purdue University as a significant source of emissions within the city.

Purdue University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

West Lafayette utility director David Henderson said Purdue’s investment is one hurdle - but a larger hurdle may be how Duke Energy plans to reduce emissions.

“It’s not just Purdue – I don’t want to make them out to be the one obstacle,” he said. “We are dependent on Duke Energy making some changes, and they do have a plan, but we are hoping that our efforts will encourage them to accelerate their climate mitigation efforts.”

In a statement, Duke Energy spokesperson Angeline Protogere underlined their existing goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“In Indiana, we expect to reduce carbon emissions from our Indiana fleet by 63% by 2030 and 88% by 2040,” she wrote.

The Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 58% by 2030 - across a large swath of different sectors, including residential housing, industrial buildings, transportation, and wastewater management.

The plan includes a long list of goals with a few high-impact focuses, which include expanding public transit coverage, creating low-income household weatherization programs, installing rooftop solar panels on residential and industrial buildings, and increasing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

According to the planning document, some parts of the plan can be implemented by various departments. Other parts will have to come back to the council as ordinances.

When asked about next steps, Bunder joked that the plan would be dumped on the city’s new Climate Resiliency and Sustainability Officer, Halee Griffey.

“We will take the 230 pages and drop them on Halee’s desk at the wastewater plant,” he said. “Somebody has to work on implementing them, somebody has to list what’s in there and what’s doable for West Lafayette, and then which department will be responsible for executing that part of the plan.”

A resolution approving the climate action plan in Lafayette goes before their city council next week.