It is too easy to mock the idea of a county government trying to do something about the massive problem of climate change — too easy and just dead wrong.

No, Frederick County cannot solve this global problem. Yes, it should be the job of national governments in the United States and around the world to address the problem.

But when our national government refuses to even concede there is a problem, local communities of every size must look to themselves and see what steps they can take.

That means officials at the state level, the county level, the city level and even among smaller communities all have roles to play. While giant leaps toward combating climate change are most desirable, small steps have their place, too.

Two Frederick County Council members, Jessica Fitzwater and Kai Hagen, are working together on a resolution that would declare a climate emergency and establish an ad hoc Climate Emergency Mobilization Workgroup to come up with steps we might take right here in our community.

Good for them.

Fitzwater and Hagen, who have been working on the resolution for months, envision a group drawn from the local scientific and environmental community who would meet with county officials for a year.

After that time, the group would make formal recommendations for action items to the County Council.

Fitzwater told News-Post reporter Steve Bohnel that the creation of a work group is a “natural next step” toward the goals of Livable Frederick, the county’s master plan, which the council adopted in September.

“Basically, [it’s] just recognizing that the county has a role to play in combating climate change and making sure we have some action steps to bring forward,” she told our reporter.

“We aren’t climate scientists, we’re part-time citizen legislators, but we as a county need to make sure we’re making decisions through the lens of climate change, and that’s what I’m hoping to do,” Fitzwater added.

Sometimes, small changes at the local or state level have the potential to make a real difference in the climate battle. Take, for example, the push for more mass transit. The first idea may be to ease traffic on our roads, but the resulting change might also be beneficial to the environment.

Right now, a transportation plan being developed in Montgomery County could include a rapid-service bus from Frederick County to northern Virginia.

News-Post reporter Ryan Marshall recently wrote about the I-270 Corridor Transit Plan, now in its early phase, that would utilize new toll lanes along Interstate 270. Bus rapid transit would carry riders on express routes with limited stops.

According to 2018 data from the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, nearly 24 percent of Frederick County residents work in Montgomery County. An additional 3 percent commute to Washington, D.C., and almost 6 percent go all the way to Virginia.

While the prospect of reducing traffic on I-270 is exciting, the removal of 50 cars by each bus would represent a significant reduction in emissions, especially if the buses were powered by electric motors.

Even a proposal like the one made recently by County Executive Jan Gardner for a shuttle bus service in small towns around the county might be able to reduce dependence on auto trips. And every little bit can help.

A serious work group study should be able to propose numerous ideas for cutting carbon emissions at the county level.

Someday, we hope, the climate change deniers that include the Trump administration will be replaced by public officials willing to make hard choices about saving the environment. But until that time comes, we must all do what is within our power.

(61) comments

dtwigg

Personally, I find the use of aliases in this forum to be detrimental to civil discourse. If someone has something to say they ought to be willing to attach their name to it.

DickD

And your name, dtwigg?

StrengthofLiberty

Infrastructure resilence. -

PS: Frederick News Post who ever wrote love letter to Kai - The fact is, your title tells us, and has told us, all of us - globablly - locally; over and over and over again for decades. That is the simple reason that more and more people are less interested in all the talking and want to see what has been done for these past decades that are meaningful. That have had an impact. That we are reducing the levels of what must be reduced. But when a party comes at us with constant bombardment of nothing we do being good enough, I mean really. Your encouragement to be a better steward for the environment is a bit old isn't it? Your encouragement for us to believe professional politicians/lobbyist/s at this moment in our nations and the worlds history is at best ridiculous. - Really - what white whine, beer hall were the authors at when they penned that "Climate Emergency Mobilzation Group" - call it something a bit more inspiring, the Infrastructure Resilience Committee. At least that is obviously holistic, and not striking fear that more laws, and the drove party ss - antifa aren't going to come banging on our doors because someone forget to wash the recycling before recycling. - Come on FNP - raise the [insert f-word-ing] bar. Tell us what sustainable government procurment practice and public treasury investments are working. Given us some light to shine at the horizon so we can avoid tragedy. Because when a local political party functionaries show up with public treasury/bonds to finance a parking lot for a public-private partnership for a hip/swinging hotel - you just put another lump of coal around your parties neck. - Infrastructure resilience can be made a real 21st century objective. Rooted in transportation, it effects everything. By the by: What happened that "Complete Streets" whatcha ma call it? One last thing: Last person to die, please turn out the lights.

dtwigg

Resilience, the military's latest favorite buzzword.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Hmm when the FNP opinion editors are ask a question why they are advocating for a Presidents Administration to mandate climate change policy instead of States, local jurisdictions or even Congress they respond by deleting the comment. If the FNP was really serious about this they would urge citizens to contact their congressional representatives and have them push for legislation through Congress. I guess if Trump decides to rejoin the Paris Accord , he will be a saint.

gabrielshorn2013

Yeah, I noticed that too OP. SMH...

Obadiah Plainsmen

It makes person think that they would like to see a President to declare a climate change emergency and mandate steps to be taken by way of Executive Order. And take the responsibility away from Congress.

MD1756

The writer states "No, Frederick County cannot solve this global problem. Yes, it should be the job of national governments in the United States and around the world to address the problem." and then goes on to say "But when our national government refuses to even concede there is a problem, local communities of every size must look to themselves and see what steps they can take."

I believe that politicians are part of the problem. Many (if not most) seem to promote population growth. They believe that more people are needed to grow the economy. They need to wake up to the fact that people are the primary causes of climate change and other environmental issues including wiping out other species that inhabit this planet. Why wait for the federal government, state or local governments to do something? It is hard to do when many of them are cutting their budgets and/or staff devoted to environmental protection. For example, according to the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) Between 2008 and 2018, Maryland's budget for environmental protection only went up 2% and there was an actual staff reduction of 5%. Why is a progressive state like Maryland not leading the way for environmental protection?

Why wait for the federal government to do something? A lot of pollution comes from energy use for homes and personal transportation. It also comes from consumerism. Why not require people to reduce their own carbon and/or other environmental measure footprints before they are allowed to have children and add to the problem? How about charging a tax for having children instead of giving people a tax break? The tax could be lower for those who have documented carbon footprint reductions (such as using green energy sources for their domestic use and green alternatives for transportation) and higher for those who do nothing to reduce their adverse impact before deciding to have children and thus add to the adverse environmental impact we roughly 7.8 billion humans are having on this planet. No need to wait for federal regulations, everyone should consider their impacts on the planet and work to reduce them. Using geothermal for home heating and cooling and solar for energy needs is a starting step that many could take. Politicians could require (or provide incentives) for those who rent property to include green sources for their energy needs. There is much that can be done without waiting for the federal, state and/or local governments to write regulations.

HappySeller2014

We not gonna get to 100 posts tonight folks. I have evening plans. :)

hayduke2

Going to a balloon lauch? Whatever, have a great evening..[beam]

HappySeller2014

:) Hockey game. End of 1st period. Checking in. More good posts posted. I like this new look in 2020 on these FNP boards!

Obadiah Plainsmen

Whew, glad that issue is resolved. Now send all aye’s or nay’s to Annapolis.

HappySeller2014

Not so fast Obadiah!

If nothing gets done at the state level in 2020, it is now Frederick County, MD's problem to tackle. But if Washington, Carroll, Howard and Montgomery counties do not move to act, us poor Frederick County folks are gonna get innundated with plastic bags no matter which direction the wind blows.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Hmm that is a dilemma, Better start praying for a strong wind! Blow them to Pennsylvania, Baltimore,PG county DC, Va, WV.

HappySeller2014

:)

Comment deleted.
HappySeller2014

Good point Obadiah. So now, FNP is advocating that when the federal government fails, states and localities should pick up the pieces and fill the void. Ridiculous.

States and localities need to take care of their own, first. Redirecting or using valuable state and local resources to "fix" federal failures is completely wasteful, dumb and idiotic. If local governments are not in the business of legislating and fixing local concerns, what good are they? The federal government could care less about our county recycling program being in the red or our county composting program dying - you think the feds are going to come to our rescue?

I am suprised the FNP would take this position. I guess if federal military spending starts decreasing, our local Frederick county council will step in and help fill the void by funding a few tanks and maybe half an attack helicopter.

Yeah, right.

FrederickFan

Resolutions and another new workgroup are talk. What's needed is action and it's need now. Whatever happened to Kai Hagen's taskforce on plastic bags? It was announced and then nothing!

HappySeller2014

Yep.

Been waiting since June 19, 2019 to see what the "plastic bag" workgroup has come up with. So far no recommendations and not even a staus report.

And now, valuable legislative time at the local county level being used to discuss forming another "study group" on the environment as a whole. But we are not even passed plastic trash bag analysis yet.

But, fear not, we now have balloon legislation that made it into law!

What a ridiculous waste of valuable legislative time that could be spend tackling real Frederick County issues. In my professional world, the easiest way to kill initiatives is to tie them up in study groups, task worforces, or meetings.

hayduke2

I suspect your professional life is not one rooted in environmental concerns.

HappySeller2014

You got that right. It is in the people-helping field, and does not involve requiring police to respond to 911 calls regarding miscreants releasing a dozen innocent balloons in Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Urbana, Buckeystown or wherever.

hayduke2

Sure.... Fixated on balloon legislation designed to educate. Helping people huh!?

gabrielshorn2013

Oh jeez Happy, nobody is going to respond to a 911 call that a balloon got loose. Hyperbole much?

HappySeller2014

Hayduke, legislation should be used to solve issues. Pass budgets. Stop wrongdoing. Improve public safety. Not "educate."

Leave education to radio public service announcements, tv ads, newspaper tidbits, local community college sit-ins, or flyers for little Muffy to take home from her elementary school.

Use valuable county council time to legislate enforceable mandates helping you and me.

kaihagen

Hello. The working group was put on hold when it was brought to my attention that there was/is going to be a serious effort to deal with this on a statewide level during the coming state legislative session. If that does not happen and pass, we will pick things up again here, with an eye toward a local solution.

https://wtop.com/maryland/2020/01/plastic-bag-ban-green-agriculture-and-zero-waste-maryland-lawmakers-climate-plans-for-2020-session/

Pwsccg

There will be legislation submitted during this session of the MD general assembly for a statewide bag ban. Contact your delegate and senator to voice your support. The wording published yesterday describing the climate declaration requires recommendations and action within a year. County wide plans are specific, manageable and needed To be effective, I think, because one (Federal) sized doesn’t fit all. Would love to see constructive input from you Happy.

MD1756

Your continued posts show that you have not really tried to educate yourself when someone points out to you the problems caused by the issues you mock. Would your repeal any littering law that included throwing cigarette butts out car windows because it would take all of the county's resources to enforce?

kaihagen

Hello. The working group was put on hold when it was brought to my attention that there was/is going to be a serious effort to deal with this on a statewide level during the coming state legislative session.

If that does not happen and pass, we will pick things up again here, with an eye toward a local solution.

HappySeller2014

Kai, I know I have been a bit ornery lately. But I did vote for you.

The feds are not passing trash bag legislation. If the state of Maryland in 2020 does not pass any plastic bag legislation, why is it now Frederick County's need for you and the county council to step in?

I appreciate the plastic bag study group update, but it is incredulous to me why you and the county council are not focusing on the many serious, somewhat complicated, and much needed public policy issues affecting our neighbors. Spending months developing yet another environmental study group resolution has me verklempt when we have overcrowded portables at many of our public schools, a recycling program in the red, a dead composting program, dairy farmers struggling, and construction delays going on for years in some locales. I have friends going through ridiculous local hurdles just trying to get solar panels put up.

And we read about balloon legislation? The fact balloon legislation is making major county council news is not a good look politically.

gabrielshorn2013

Happy, let me help you understand those issues.

overcrowded portables - school funding to relieve the overcrowding is required. The county is restricted on doing anything by the tax revenue stream. Taxpayers want this, but they don't want to pay for it. Same issue with reduced class sizes. The council cannot spend money it doesn't have.

recycling program in the red - The recycling program worked well...too well. There are not many takers for this material anymore, and China, our biggest taker, won't accept it anymore. Shall Kai and the Council ask President Xe to reconsider? There must be material flow for this to work, and the flow comes from demand. There isn't much, especially if it is cheaper in many instances to use virgin materials than using recycled ones.

dead composting program - OK agreed here. Commercial use, out of county use, and trash dumping doomed the program. The solution should have been to have 24 hour monitoring with cameras, and recording user's license numbers. We can go forward with some ideas and reopen the compost pile in Walkersville. Farmers don't need the pile. We have our own.

dairy farmers struggling - I am very sympathetic to that issue. However, what in the world is the County Council going to do about it? The current problem is an overabundant supply and diminishing demand. Both Dean and now Borden have declared bankruptcy. Shall the Council adopt a new policy of "Drink More Milk" or "Eat More Cheese"? Shall kids be charged for it, even if they won't eat it?Furthermore, the farmers do not set the prices for their milk. Middlemen do. They either accept the contract and produce milk at that price, getting some income, or refuse the contract, getting no income. Tough choice.

construction delays - are those all county delays, or are they state and local?

HappySeller2014

I have a good handle on the local issues Gabby. I want more local legislative brainpower focused on them.

Local legislation could impact portable use. Legislation could be passed to give local tax breaks and incentives to restaurants that buy local dairy products, from places such as South Mountain Creamery in Middletown. Pass legislation to require responsible recycling so I do not put my beanie weenies and kid's diapers in my blue recycling bin, and serial abusers get fined who constantly dump trash in the blue bins to avoid trash collection fees. Pass legislation to incentivize composting and provide breaks to farmers that use organic fertilizers rather than chemicals.

But we legislate and make resolutions on balloons and plastic bags. Get my point yet Gabby?

gabrielshorn2013

You may know what some of the issues are Happy, yet you have little understanding of them, or their mitigation.

Local legislation could impact portable use – Such as? Care to expand on that? As I told you above, the Council, and therefore the BoE, is restricted by the tax revenue, and State funding availability for new schools. Even if portable use was ordered stopped by the Council, there must be a building to put the kids in. The County can only get so much funding from taxpayers before the taxpayers tell them to go pound sand, and vote them out of office. That is exactly where we are now. So exactly what legislation would you propose? Be specific.

tax breaks for local restaurants using local dairies OK, let’s suppose this is feasible, and those breaks are given. Does every business or industry that struggles get a tax break? If not, is that fair to the others? Taking that one step further, what kind of revenue loss are we looking at? Will other’s taxes need to be raised to make up for it?

>legislation requiring responsible recycling- Recycling is already mandatory in Frederick county. You want to make it extra mandatory now? That still does not solve the issue of demand for the recycled materials, and a place to put them. That demand is drying up, and there must be a customer for the recycled materials. There are plenty of resources to learn what is and what is not recyclable in the blue containers. https://frederickcountymd.gov/3549/What-Can-I-Recycle. Heck, they even have an app for it! How many have looked up this information, despite it being originally listed on the sticker and pamphlet that came with the blue bin? Are you now proposing the “Recycling Police” to inspect everyone’s blue bins at pickup? Are you going to increase staff, thereby increasing costs, thereby…wait for it…increasing taxes? BTW, I fill a blue bin every week or so, and put a bag of trash out once every two weeks. I recycle and compost.

incentivize composting - Farmers already use organic fertilizers and not chemical ones. They don’t need someone else’s compost. It’s called manure, and is spread several times a year. The newbies to the area hate the smell and complain. Other groups want to sanction the farmers for using it because of potential runoff that may pollute the local streams and rivers with nitrogen. So, what’s a poor farmer to do? They could either use their readily-available, and cheap organic manure fertilizer, of pay for very expensive chemical fertilizers, significantly driving up their costs. Any compost a farmer needs is made on their facility. I do.

Do you think in all of these years that the Council has faced these problems? Three out of four of your issues require additional taxpayer funding. They’re going relatively nowhere because of that fact. The fertilizer issue is non-existant.

As an astute and important businessman, I’m sure you understand the economics of the situation. If not, I invite you to the next Council meeting to air your grievances on the record. You finally get my point(s) Happy? BTW, you do understand the concept of “low hanging fruit” don’t you?

HappySeller2014

My goodness Gabby! Again, very important issues and questions raised. But they should all be part of the legislative debate and sausagemaking process. Not be answered here. But heck, you have got it off to an excellent start. Good things to consider.

kaihagen

https://wtop.com/maryland/2020/01/plastic-bag-ban-green-agriculture-and-zero-waste-maryland-lawmakers-climate-plans-for-2020-session/

HappySeller2014

FNP, you have this dead wrong.

Working on a resolution in house for months to develop a "study group?" Recently passing nonpourour bags (balloon) legislation?

Cowtailing to this use of valuable county CV ouncil legislative time, and actually supporting it over others who think it is a massive waste of time with so many other local issues needing attention, is severely disappointing. I expect better.

kaihagen

This initiative/resolution will not happen, if it does, at the expense of any other priorities.

HappySeller2014

Kai, why isn't this being handled in house with county employees? Why aren't you instructing the numerous environmental experts we have staffing many county positions to get together, look into these issues, and get back to you and the county council? After all, our county employees know best what we need locally to look into. Just ask the Mayor about backlash he received from contracting out the city's new logo to a Jacksonville, FL company. Your best people in this issue area are sitting right in front of your face.

Why are you spending time drafting a resolution? Just put county staff on it and ask for a deliverable by the July 4th holiday weekend?

I know publicity is good for politicians. But all this balloon and trash bag and resolution boondoggle has many folks scratching their heads.

gabrielshorn2013

I am surprised that someone with your business acumen needs to ask such a question Happy. County workers time is a cost, and a big one. Volunteers do it free of charge, and there are many experts out here that are willing to volunteer our time on such matters. That costs the county nothing to study the issues, come up with a plan, then present it to the council for consideration. The County can use its experts to assess the plan.

Yes, the mayor's decision to outsource was bone-headed. He should have had a volunteer committee of Frederick citizens.

HappySeller2014

So Gabby, this issue area is not important enough for Kai to ask county employees to look into it, but good enough for county council consideration, debate, public comment and a resolution? You back yourself into a corner.

I dream of opposing counsel like you when I try cases in court. You make it so easy to make my points and win my case!

gabrielshorn2013

So now you want even more county employee involvement, at additional and significant expense to look into this issue before the Council voted on it? Meanwhile volunteer experts can easily do the job, free of charge? You contradict your own objection of expending resources. This was low-hanging fruit. You get that concept, right? Little input for big benefit. That’s good, right? You’re the one that backs themselves into a corner. Attorney? HAHAHA!!! You’re an attorney, yet you are wasting all of these valuable billable hours arguing with people on this forum? You wasted at least six hours today alone. Did you hang out your own shingle, or work for a firm? Tsk, tsk, tsk. I hope you’re not double-dipping and charging your employer or clients for the time you spent here. Lemme guess, Siontz and Kirk? 1-800-728-6224? BTW, public comment and adoption are required for all laws, regardless of how big…or small. But you already know that “counselor”. Give it up Happy. You have lost all credibility. I’m done. Go enjoy that big evening you told us you were going to have.

kaihagen

Please note that county council members...or the county council, overall...can not direct county employees to to anything.

But, in any case, wee can appoint an excellent workgroup with qualified and interested volunteers AND some county employees...IF the county executive supports their engagement in the process.

jsklinelga

Hypocrisy?

Here are the principal areas that Frederick County could impact climate change with proper legislation. Undoubtedly auto emissions and burning of fossil fuel is a huge contributor to climate change as is the associated paving. Residential cooling seems to have taken the lead as the largest user in electric consumption. Right up there with residential cooling is commercial hearing and cooling with astounding, across the board, energy inefficient spaces. More electric usage means more burning of fossil fuels.

Frederick County could immediately pass laws to curb each of these contributors. But they will not. Instead of expanding ! 270 they could block the expansion along with other projects. Some have said that could be counteracted with electric cars but electric cars are barely better considering the need for more electric. And this does not even take into consideration of laying more asphalt. Paving is such a complicated area that no life cycle analysis has been able to be produced.

3000 and 4000 sq ft homes seem to be the normal. Could their production be curbed? And couldn't commercial spaces be required to be more energy efficient as residential spaces have strict inspections. These are areas that could be immediately addressed but they will not be.

What politician would be reelected advocating no expansion to I-270. What politician could withstand pressure from the development community that sought to curb the profits on building large sq foot residence?. And what politician could be re-elected facing the pressure from businesses whose start up cost would be greatly impacted by efficiency regulations? None. No study group will change that no matter how "feel good" it is.

HappySeller2014

Good points jsk.

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