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July 23, 2014
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Lumberland takes the climate change pledge


GLEN SPEY, NY — The Town of Lumberland last Wednesday joined several Sullivan County towns in signing on to a state initiative to combat climate change.

Perhaps the ongoing harsh winter weather provided a global warming impetus, as Supervisor Nadia Rajsz admittedly hurried through the evening town board agenda to beat the impending storm.

Despite her need for speed, Rajsz took the time to read the pledge language provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which had been transferred to a town board resolution. She paused amid a long list of draconian climate change impacts saying, “This sounds so ominous.”

Read the full text of the pledge at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/65494.html#Model.

The pledge is primarily aimed at reducing fossil fuel use and the greenhouse gases their burning produces. Its adoption, in part, commits Lumberland to set goals on emissions; decrease energy demand and encourage renewable energy for local government use; support a green innovation economy, inform and inspire the public; and “plan for adaptation to unavoidable climate change.”

There are reasons other than altruism for participating in the program. Joining the initiative provides local governments with support from the Climate Smart Network, in which participating communities receive notification of state and federal assistance. According to the state, this assistance can act as leverage to help adopt low-carbon technologies, and of programs and support for efficiency improvements and energy conservation.

The network can provide the help of other local governments that already have adopted climate smart practices and policies.

In addition to savings from reduced energy usage, participants receive statewide recognition and are promised “an advantage in accessing some state assistance programs.” The DEC website does not expand on details of that commitment.

Lumberland joined Sullivan County and the towns of Tusten, Bethel and Delaware in joining the Climate Smart Communities initiative locally.

DEC lists 122 municipalities and 12 mostly eastern and central New York counties participating in the pledge program, which began in 2010.

In related business Rajsz announced that she plans to switch the town’s energy provider and use the Municipal Gas and Energy Alliance (MEGA), described as a “totally green energy company.”

Councilman James Akt reported that the town hall and town office air conditioning units have been converted to air conditioning/heat pump units to back up existing oil heating.

Highland to pledge

Neighboring Highland is scheduled to vote on the pledge at its town board’s March meeting. Highland has become active in energy awareness. The town is a co-sponsor in the year-long Weather Project by Highland Lake-based, NACL Theatre, which last weekend sponsored a two-day climate change symposium in Eldred.

Highland Supervisor Andrew Boyar has also announced last week that a year-long cost comparison is underway using AC/heat pump technology as a cheaper alternative to heating oil at the community/senior citizens’ center.