Lincoln Environmental Action Plan

LEAP Update

As anticipated, Lincoln residents stepped up to the plate and provided extensive comments and thoughtful suggestions on how to improve the LEAP document. Through the public review process we received over 200 distinct comments from 85 individuals displaying significant knowledge and insights into the environmental challenges we face as a community.

Beyond general support for the document, some of the more common recommendations submitted by the public included:

  • Improving environmental education and outreach including use of social media
  • Establishing more aggressive clean energy goals
  • More support and communication relative to preserving natural resources
  • Broadening and improving the efficiency of recycling programs
  • Considering restrictions (banning or fees) for plastic bags
  • Providing recognition and incentives for pro-active businesses
  • Support for expanded biking with a focus on rider education and safety and lessening driver animosity
  • Support for expanded electric vehicle infrastructure and incentives
  • Greater focus and incentives for infill (in combination with discouraging urban sprawl)
  • Expand incentives/disincentives for water conservation

While comments were overwhelmingly supportive, some constructive criticism was provided which will be very helpful in ensuring the final plan strikes the balance necessary for broad community support, without compromising our commitment to environmental excellence.

Constructive criticism of the plan included:

  • The need to improve clarity regarding how specific strategies relate to and can achieve stated goals/indicators
  • Concerns over recycling and energy efficiency programs being mandatory vs. voluntary
  • Concern that the plan should be broader and more closely aligned with other Cities' sustainability plans across the country

Download a log of comments submitted online. Comments are listed in chronological order received with the commenter's first name and last initial included.

Through the next couple of weeks, we will be incorporating comments and suggestions as appropriate in improving the content and utility of the LEAP document. During this period, additional thoughts and considerations may be submitted directly to Frank Uhlarik, the City's Sustainability and Compliance Administrator at

Frequently Asked Questions


How was the plan developed?

The Mayor's Environmental Task Force, consisting of 34 people representing environmental interests, utilities, businesses and residents, assisted the City's Cleaner Greener Lincoln Sustainability Administrator Frank Uhlarik in preparing the initial draft. The Mayor's Office reviewed the Task Force work and created the Plan's framework. The Plan was shared with the City Council and several provided input to the draft that is being made public today.

How much will the plan cost?

Future costs will depend on how much of the Plan is implemented in the upcoming biennial budget and future budgets. Some elements of the Plan save money. For instance, LED streets lights will use less electricity, reducing a cost paid by City taxpayers. Other elements are long term costs for which the City must plan. The removal and replacement of Ash trees destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borer is a challenge that may cost tens of millions of dollars over 20 years. The Plan's costs and savings will be weighed against the City's other needs as we develop future City budgets.

How will you communicate progress of goals in the plan?

The Plan sets performance indicators that allow the community to measure progress toward our goals. The City will initiate a web page where residents can check on progress, view plan updates, and learn about how they can get involved in making Lincoln a cleaner, greener community.


Why is 2011 selected as the baseline year for the greenhouse gas emission reduction goal?

While the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department has conducted GHG emission inventories since 2008, 2011 is the first year that a uniform and streamlined calculation method has been utilized which can be consistently and efficiently measured and reported in the years to come.

How much will it cost and what kind of savings does the City anticipate from conversion of the streetlight system to LED technology?

Preliminary estimates from LES and various energy consultants range from $10 to $15 Million with simple paybacks ranging from eight to twelve years. As the costs of LED technology continues to drop along with competitive volume - based pricing, we anticipate this payback period will become even more attractive. LED street lights provide better illumination and more effective lighting providing additional public safety benefits as well.

How are you going to reduce non-renewable fuel usage by 50%?

We anticipate a significant reduction in fuel usage by retiring older vehicles and replacing them with new, more efficient models. We are also evaluating pool management tools and idle reduction methodologies to further improve vehicle utilization and efficiency. Lastly – we will continue to invest in hybrid and electric vehicles, and other equipment fueled by renewable and compressed natural gas in order to pursue this goal.

Land Use

Why is the City worried about the emerald ash borer? It's not even been detected in the State, has it?

The Emerald Ash Borer has been working its way non-stop across the country. It is known to be in Iowa and has been detected in Omaha and Greenwood, NE. Cities that failed to plan ahead suffered devastating effects from rapid tree death and the associated economic and safety impacts.

What will we do with all the tree waste produced from ash removal?

We are looking at ways to re-use and recycle the wood in a variety of ways from furniture to mulch to energy generation.

How does urban agriculture help the environment?

Locally grown food reduces energy costs for transportation, improves air quality, increases wellness and nutrition and builds community in neighborhoods.


What exactly is Greenlight Lincoln and how is it good for the environment?

Green Light Lincoln is an initiative being undertaken by the City of Lincoln Traffic Engineering Division to improve traffic flow and traffic safety city wide. The focus of the effort is improvement of the overall traffic management system including implementation of new signal equipment, technologies, and updated traffic signal timing plans at all intersections. This multi-phase project is good for the environment in that it will reduce vehicle fuel consumption, emissions, and idling, resulting in less carbon monoxide and improved air quality citywide.


Why is increasing recycling important?

Recycling extends the life of the landfill, boosts the local economy and conserves resources for the future. Nearly 40% of the Municipal Solid Waste that arrives at the landfill is recyclable material. It makes no sense to pay to bury it when you could use those same resources to put it back into use as new products.

Are there other materials that cannot be disposed in the landfill?

Yes. Since the landfill opened in 1988, there are a number of materials that have been diverted away from Lincoln's landfill to better processing sites. These include: waste oil; lead acid batteries; tires; appliances (refrigerators, air conditioners, washers and dryers); and grass and leaves (seasonally). These steps have helped extend the life of the current landfill. Corrugated cardboard would be the next step.

What are you planning beyond cardboard diversion?

We first want to take time to make sure the cardboard diversion is implemented effectively and smoothly next year in April of 2018. We will analyze the effectiveness of the program and evaluate next steps after that. The next logical step for recycling would be newspaper and then other paper, but we want to see what happens with cardboard first.


Where else would the City look for water if the Ashland wellfield can't serve the City's future needs?

Lincoln has always planned well for the future and our Ashland wellfield is a great example. As we look out 50 years, our growing city will need to develop additional resources. The Missouri River is one option. We will continue to explore ideas and communicate with other municipalities and districts moving forward.

I remember when the City had to implement water restrictions a few years ago. How is our water supply doing now?

Rainfall has been good the last few years and current water levels are good. Good planning, however, means that we have to continue to look for both ways to conserve and expanded resources for the future.