Jean Abreu speaks during a March 14, 2023 Wausau City Council meeting.

Damakant Jayshi

Eighteen months after becoming the first Wisconsin city to pass the environmental justice resolution, Wausau made an aspirational commitment on Tuesday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city’s operations.

The Wausau City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution “supporting reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy security.”

The resolution commits the City of Wausau to “develop a municipal energy plan with the goal of moving City government operations to a more secure, and 100% clean energy by 2050.” The measure also calls for determining the level of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in city government operations. Additionally, the city resolves to provide resources and information to residents and businesses to support them in the transition to a cleaner energy future.

“I am pretty sure Wausau is the first government entity in Marathon County to pass a resolution to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions,” Mayor Katie Rosenberg later said in a tweet with a copy of the approved resolution. “That is thanks in no small part to Wausau’s Sustainability Commission that worked on this for about a year.”

The mayor referred to a teacher who spoke during public comment about what her students had to say about this resolution said “and it made me emotional.” Rosenberg was referring to Jean Abreau who, during public comments, urged the council to pass the resolution. She also read messages from her students who also requested city leaders to ensure a pollution-free future. Every resident who spoke during public comments on the greenhouse gas resolution urged the council to approve it.

The greenhouse gas reduction resolution was developed by the 7-member Sustainability, Energy and Environment Committee and the staff. Dist. 1 Alder Carol Lukens represents the council on the advisory committee. Last month, the Wausau Public Health and Safety Committee passed the resolution on greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

On Tuesday, Lukens began by thanking the SEEC members and the city staff and said by passing the resolution, the city is giving hope to the future generation.

Alder Lisa Rasmussen again said the resolution applied only to the city government and not the private sector though the latter could emulate the city government’s model. She said she hoped the private sector could adopt similar initiatives, and asked her colleagues to approve it.

Similarly, Alder Tom Kilian also supported the measure, saying when an initiative is data-driven and citizen-driven, it is a winner.

Alder Doug Diny said he supported the measure at the PHS Committee on the promise of payback in taxpayer savings. He suggested again establishing a baseline on where the city is right now on greenhouse gas emissions and bring a status report back to the council by the end of the year.

Wausau passed a resolution on environmental justice in September 2021.