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Climate Smart Communities

Posted 3/13/20

The Democrat recently had a front page article in our March 3 edition about the Town of Mamakating inviting the County's Office of Sustainable Energy to talk about the Climate Smart Community …

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Climate Smart Communities

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The Democrat recently had a front page article in our March 3 edition about the Town of Mamakating inviting the County's Office of Sustainable Energy to talk about the Climate Smart Community Program.

The program represents a network of communities throughout the state that are engaged in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving climate resilience. The program provides guidance to local governments on best practices for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the County of Sullivan and the Towns of Bethel and Tusten are all bronze certified climate smart communities. The Towns of Cochecton, Delaware, Fallsburg, Highland and Lumberland have all made the Climate Smart Community pledge to work toward more sustainable futures.

While this is a modest start, let's not discount how many individual people working toward the same goal can gain enough momentum to become a movement. The NYDEC cites over 285 New York communities who have partnered with their state government to build a resilient, low-emission future. These communities represent over 8.3 million people and 43 percent of New York State's population.

New York has one of the most ambitious climate policies of any state in the country. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act signed into law last year requires carbon-free electricity by 2040 and zero emissions statewide by 2050.

It's encouraging to see some local and state governments taking a greater role in acting to protect our environment. Our federal government has a mixed record of doing so in recent years.

Almost exactly a year ago, President Trump signed a sweeping public lands bill into law that protects more than 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments.

This was a big victory for conservationists. But the real credit for that bill, in our opinion, belongs to the bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers who worked for years to see it through.

Days after signing that bill, the Trump Administration announced plans to lift protections on some nine million acres of public lands for leasing opportunities to oil, gas and mining industries.

The same administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, appointed a former coal industry lobbyist to lead the Department of Environmental Protection and approved the first offshore drilling project on federal waters in the Alaskan Arctic.

In these uncertain times, it's important to remember the words of our true conservationist president, Theodore Roosevelt.

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

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