A number of local legislators want Dutchess County to reduce its use of fossil fuels. To this end, they have submitted a resolution setting specific targets, and are using a county across the river as an example.
Democratic Legislator Nick Page says the resolution he and others have submitted would direct the county to do its part to address the climate crisis.
“The bill sets forward getting all county electricity purchasing done through either local renewable source or renewable energy certificates for 2020. So that would be the first action item,” Page says. “And then, again, it would be on the county administration to put forward a plan for it to hit the targets, the reduction targets. And they would need to report back to the legislature in February of 2020.”
He says the resolution was inspired by Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan’s executive order in June.
“These targets are exactly what Pat Ryan put forth in his executive order in June, and we’d like to match that,” says Page.
The resolution also mentions Schenectady and Sullivan Counties as making progress toward climate goals. Andy Bicking is Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson’s director of public policy.
“We were certainly excited to see Ulster County move in this direction. We think it’s really important for local governments to align themselves with state policies to help deal with the issues of climate change that we’re having, both the emissions that we’re putting out as a community but also the energy that we’re using,” Bicking says. “So we’re certainly encouraged that we see other counties take note of Ulster’s work and begin moving in that direction.”
Liz Moran is environmental policy director for the New York Public Interest Research Group.
“We are in the midst of a climate crisis, so it’s important for municipalities to step up to the plate and do what they can to make sure they’re aligning with the state’s climate goals. That being said, the resolution that they are putting forward should align with the state’s new climate goals. We have important statewide goals to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, and municipalities should be making sure that they’re prepared to do the same,” Moran says. “It’s fantastic that Dutchess County is looking at ways that they can do that as well.”
The Dutchess resolution sets a preliminary goal of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with county operations by 2030, and an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with county operations by 2050. New York state adopted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act this year, and Moran would like to see counties moving up at least one of the markers.
“The goal that they have, both theirs and Ulster’s, are actually slightly different from the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Their goals are 80 percent by 2050 on a local level,” Moran says. “We would encourage them to consider the same goal that the state has, at least 85 percent with a goal of net-zero by 2020.”
Page addresses the resolution’s timing.
“So we’ve submitted it for the October agenda. So the agenda hasn’t been released yet, but our hope is that it will be on the Environmental Committee agenda for our October 10 meeting and then would to go the floor in front of the full body for our October board meeting,” says Page.
Meantime, Page says there are substantial state grants available for job training, greener public transit, and protection of wetlands and open space, and Dutchess County should be fighting for a share of that funding. He and his Democratic colleagues want to see the Climate Task Force doing more.
Just last week, Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announced the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation certified the county has earned Bronze Level designation in the Climate Smart Community program.