Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will Albemarle County Loose its Cool?

After hearing concerns about big government and perceived threats to property rights at a Jefferson Area Tea Party forum in March 2011 entitled "The Deceptive Agenda of Sustainability in Local Government," and hearing comments from Tea Party members at Board of Supervisor Meetings, Albemarle County Supervisors Ken Boyd and Rodney Thomas are hoping to drop the county's participation in the Cool Counties initiative. On Dec. 5, 2007 the Albemarle BOS passed the resolution below declaring that Albemarle County would participate in a worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are considered a major contributor to global climate change. Brendan Fitzgerald wrote an article in the May 6, 2011 in C-ville Weekly entitled "Boyd follows tea party lead, asks Albemarle to drop emissions commitment" stating that Boyd was now against Albemarle being a member of the Cool Counties Initiative.

Fitzgerald's article included ' “I don’t think that big government should dictate [energy consumption] to our citizens,” said Boyd. “Or regulate it, for that matter.” Local Tea Party members claim that groups like ICLEI [International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives] use global warming as rationale to assert internatinal control over energy consumption and personal property rights.'

I find it interesting that about one week after supporting the Tea Party opposition to the Cool Counties Initiative that Kenneth Boyd announced that he has changed his mind and will now be seeking re-election to the Board of Supervisors. I suppose electoral politics may be the major driving force behind Boyd's opposition to reducing greenhouse gas emission. Or, does he truly believe that providing leadership in reducing these emissions is not in the best interest of the county?

Fitzgerald also reported that "Boyd told Charlottesville Tomorrow that Albemarle is 'being an agenda that is set by this international organization [ICLEI].' " I guess a good conspiracy theory might be just the thing to bring some interest to the BOS elections.

Albemarle BOS will be discussing this matter at a work session on June 8. I am curious to see what comes out of that work session. I am also interested in seeing if more candidates for BOS elections will be emerging. I think issues like this might just encourage county residents to join the race.


U.S. Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration

WHEREAS, there is a consensus among the world's leading scientists that global warming caused by human emission of greenhouse gases is among the most significant problems facing the world today; and

WHEREAS, documented impacts of global warming include but are not limited to increased occurrences of extreme weather events (i.e., droughts and floods), adverse impacts on plants and wildlife habitats, threats to global food and water supplies – all of which have an economic impact on communities and their local governments; and

WHEREAS, leading scientists have projected that stabilization of climate change in time to minimize such impacts will require a reduction of global warming emissions to 80 percent below current levels by the year 2050; and

WHEREAS, currently the United States is responsible for producing approximately 25 percent of the world’s global warming pollutants; and

WHEREAS, many leading U.S. companies that have adopted greenhouse gas reduction programs to demonstrate corporate and operational responsibility have also publicly expressed preference for the federal government to adopt precise and mandatory emissions targets and timetables as a means by which to provide a uniform and predictable regulatory environment to encourage and enable necessary and long-term business investments; and

WHEREAS, state, regional and local governments throughout the U.S. are adopting emissions reduction targets and programs and that this effort is bipartisan, coming from Republican and Democratic leadership; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has endorsed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which commits cities to reduction of global warming emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, and calls for a federal limit on emissions; and

WHEREAS, the State of California has mandated statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; and

WHEREAS, more than 100 county leaders signed a letter written by Dane County, Wisconsin, that was sent to the President in March 2006 calling for increased energy investment and development of jobs focused on clean energy technologies; and

WHEREAS, counties have a unique role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change through their regional jurisdiction over policy areas such as air quality, land use planning, transportation, zoning, forest preservation, water conservation, and wastewater and solid waste management; and

WHEREAS, the economic arguments for implementing climate solutions are compelling, from the near-term economic gains of energy efficiency to the long-term climate stabilization that can prevent irreparable harm from catastrophic climate change impacts; and

WHEREAS, many counties throughout the nation, both large and small, are reducing global warming pollutants through programs that provide economic and quality of life benefits such as reducing energy bills, preserving green space, implementing better land use policies, improving air quality, promoting waste-to-energy programs, expanding transportation and work choices to reduce traffic congestion, and fostering more economic development and job creation through energy conservation and new technologies;

NOW, THEREFORE WE DECLARE, that: We, as Cool Counties, will take immediate steps to help the federal, state, and our governments within our county to achieve the 2050 climate stabilization goal by making the following commitments:

i. Create an inventory of our county government (operational) greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and implement policies, programs and operations to achieve significant, measurable and sustainable reduction of those operational GHG emissions to help contribute to the regional reduction targets as identified in paragraph ii; and

ii. Work closely with local, state, and federal governments and other leaders to reduce county geographical GHG emissions to 80 percent below current levels by 2050, by developing a GHG emissions inventory and regional plan that establishes short-, mid-, and long-term GHG reduction targets, with recommended goals to stop increasing emissions by 2010, and to achieve a 10 percent reduction every five years thereafter through to 2050; and

iii. Urge Congress and the Administration to enact a multi-sector national program of requirements, market-based limits, and incentives for reducing GHG emissions to 80 percent below current levels by 2050. Urge Congress and the Administration to strengthen standards by enacting legislation such as a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (“CAFE”) standard that achieves at least 35 miles per gallon (mpg) within 10 years for cars and light trucks.

We will take immediate steps to identify regional climate change impacts; and

We will draft and implement a county plan to prepare for and build resilience to those impacts.

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