Wildlife, fish, plants and people depend on a stable climate-the usual pattern of temperature, precipitation and wind measured over the years. Climate defines the way forests differ from deserts; it controls whether mountain snows will feed cool streams or rains will cause warmer waters. We react to daily weather, but climate shapes our state and our lives.

A Stable Climate Defines Idaho

Over millennia, typical patterns of temperature and precipitation have shaped Idaho’s mountains, rivers, forests and deserts, and our society has grown around these natural realities. Agriculture in Idaho depends on snowpack as a reservoir for irrigation water. Buildings are designed to heat and cool in response to predictable temperature swings. Iconic species like salmon and elk thrive in Idaho because of our cold, clear water, or the mix of forests and grasslands.

Now we see the typical patterns changing before our eyes. 2014 was the hottest year on record, until 2015 raised the bar further. A hotter climate changes the weather we see day to day-more extreme heat, rain instead of snow, and different patterns of winter storms. Idaho must react to changes such as having less predictable river flows and insulating our homes and businesses from extreme temperatures.

Stability Has Value

While we adapt to some inevitable change, we must also stop the pollution that is driving climate change. The largest source is carbon dioxide from power plants and cars, followed by methane from natural gas and agriculture. Pollution imposes costs on us in order to adapt to a changing climate. Preventing pollution may cost money, but it is the smart move in the long run so we don’t have to rebuild our society or lose the fish, wildlife, plants and trees Idahoans hold dear.

Fortunately now more than ever before, we have the opportunity to stop pollution. The Clean Power Plan will control carbon pollution from power plants. ICL is ensuring the state develops a plan that makes sense for Idaho. Electric cars are getting cheaper and better every day. As we clean up Idaho’s electric sector, transitioning to electric cars will cut back on local air pollution and protect the larger climate. By working together, we will make a clean, affordable energy future for Idaho and protect our natural heritage.

Where Will Idaho Go?

To protect Idaho we should build on national and international trends. In Spokane, hundreds of people-including Idahoans-turned out to protect their communities and our climate by opposing plans to increase oil trains. And the U.S. Department of Interior suspended coal leasing to ensure we leave fossil fuels where they belong, in the ground.

Idaho has a clean energy opportunity! We can turn to renewable energy which is cheaper today than ever before-and costs continue to fall. In 2016 Idaho will see several solar projects complement Idaho’s wind power. Efficiency incentives from Idaho Power, Avista, and Rocky Mountain Power can help you save energy and reduce power bills. While some politicians say some misguided things, aware Idahoans can build on our legacy of hard work to create solutions that make sense for Idaho.