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Bello calls for county climate plan


Climate change is a big, all-encompassing problem and solving it will require aggressive, global action.
But it's also a local problem. For example, zoning laws and wider roads encourage driving and keep people dependent on cars, most of which are still powered by gas or diesel.

And while they won't solve the global crisis on their own, local governments can lessen their communities' contributions to climate change.  This afternoon, County Executive candidate Adam Bello, a Democrat, laid out his plan for how Monroe County can do just that.

Bello wants to create a Climate Action Board, which would include representatives from local governments, as well as environmental and subject matter experts, Bello said during a press conference at Impact Earth, a Brighton-based company that offers zero-waste services. The board would help his administration put together a climate action plan, which would include:
  • An analysis of countywide greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Benchmarks and targets for reducing those emissions;
  • Land use and smart growth goals, as well as an emphasis on regional planning;
  • Details on how to improve regional wastewater systems so they "address concerns about flooding and stormwater management;
  • Ways the county can create sustainable purchasing and procurement guidelines.
"Monroe County needs to now step up," Bello said.

Local climate advocates, including the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders, have repeatedly asked the county to develop a climate action plan. County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, a Republican, put together a Sustainability Team consisting of department heads, which identified several energy efficiency and renewable energy projects the county could do. 

In a previous response earlier this year to the Youth Climate Leaders request, a spokesperson noted that eight county facilities are LEED certified, which means they meet strict energy efficiency and environment requirements; that the county has a Green Fleet of more than 400 electric and alternative fuel vehicles; and that the county buys power from a local solar project.

Still, the county's efforts need to "match the scale of the problem," Bello said.

He wants the county to provide financing to commercial property owners for energy efficiency or renewable energy projects; the property owners then pay back the funding through an assessment on their tax bills.  The program, known as PACE financing, happens through the state, but the County Legislature has to pass a local law enacting it.

Bello also wants the County Legislature to approve a tax incentive for residents who add renewable power systems to their homes. And he wants to create a countywide sustainable business network, modeled on the WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, and to enact a county tax incentive for residents who add renewable power systems to their homes.