Experts address need for energy reform
The Montgomery County Council met with area leaders in energy conservation and reform to discuss global warming this past Wednesday, March 14. Headed by Councilmember Roger Berliner, the council discussed current measures the county is taking to fight global warming and what its goals should be for the future.
The conference began with a panel on "Why a Local Response to Global Warming is Necessary," moderated by Councilmember Nancy Floreen, featuring testimonials from environmental action groups and county-level officials. The panel spoke to the need for Montgomery County to be a leader in the fight against global warming.
Montgomery County currently emits 10 million tons of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas, per year, a number that has increased at a rate in the double digits over the past decade. This accounts for over 10% of the total emissions for Maryland, according to Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner for the Department of Environmental Protection. Coffman also discussed the county's plan to buy up to 20% of its power from wind energy sources by the year 2020.
While this number palls in comparison to the 6008.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by the United States as a whole, this panel stressed the importance of acting on a small scale. "Acting at the local level has been the most effective, considering the inactivity of Congress on this issue," said Brent Blackwelder, President of the Friends of the Earth environmental action group.
Berliner said that his vision is to ensure that Montgomery County maintains its rightful role as a leader on behalf of our environment. The way to do this, according to Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, is to adopt stricter standards on vehicle, industrial, commercial and residential emissions, such as the CAFÉ automobile standards first introduced in California. "The faster we react, the fewer regrets we'll have," added Tidwell, citing the fact that other municipalities will look to Montgomery County as an example of how to plan their environmental programs.
"Although the conference was short," said Berliner after the last panel ended, "I really feel that this was an important step that will guide the county and those around us in the years to come."
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