By JENNIFER HILL
COOPERSTOWN – Failing to do so two months ago, the county Board of Representatives voted 12-2 to enact a state-sponsored “Climate Smart Community Pledge” during their meeting on Wednesday, March 6.
County Reps. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, and Kathy Clark, R-Otego, who had questioned it last time, when it was referred to the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee (SWECC) for further study, opposed it again.
But the board’s vice chair, Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, who had opposed the resolution in SWECC on Feb. 15, saying it wasn’t strong enough, today voted aye.
The pledge is part of a state effort to incentivize municipalities and counties to become clean-energy communities. When local governments vote to adopt the pledge, they agree to support 10 required elements; in return, they gain access to certain grants.
Frazier, who pulled the resolution from the consent agenda for a separate vote, said, “I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish with it, and called it “an attempt to stifle any type of economic development.”
“We should not tie the hands” of entrepreneurs looking to develop businesses in the region, he said.
In response, county Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, an OCCA circuit rider, said the Climate Smart Pledge “did not have the legal teeth to stifle economic development,” and that signing onto the pledge would free up grants to “help business protect themselves from the effects of climate change.”
Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, used the Town of Hartwick as a Climate Smart community that had not turned away economic development. “Just last night, the town voted approve going forward with the … Hampton Inn,” she said.
“I encourage the county to work on energy efficiency upgrades and having energy efficient equipment,” Kennedy added, before saying she would vote in favor of the Climate Smart Pledge.
In explaining why he changed his voted, Koutnik said, “The language of the resolution was too watered down. But now I will support it because it opens us up to getting grants to address climate change.”
“Climate change is a clear and present danger,” he added.