December 4, 2013

City of Ithaca Adopts Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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The Ithaca Common Council unanimously voted Wednesday to adopt an Energy Action Plan, which will help guide both the city government and the community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Energy Action Plan stems from the city’s desire to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below its 2001 levels by 2016, as outlined by the Local Action Plan adopted by the Common Council in July 2006, according to the EAP.

Although some of the goals in the Local Action Plan have either been implemented or are currently in the process of being implemented since the plan’s passing, the city previously had no formal way to monitor the measures, according to the resolution which allowed for the adoption of the EAP.

The suggested examples for reducing the city’s environmental footprint under the EAP include ways for both the city government and the Ithaca community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including performing an energy audit on government facilities, working with surrounding communities and expanding farmer market opportunities.

Approving the Energy Action Plan is the first step in gaining the city’s full support and is necessary for the successful implementation of the plan.

“The idea here is to stake out that this is something that is important to the city,” Alderperson Chris Proulx ’91 (D-5th Ward) said. “For many reasons, I support this and look forward to putting this in as our next baseline.”

Alderperson Jennifer Dotson (G-1st Ward) added that the EAP is wide-ranging in its scope because “the issue it’s dealing with is really wide-ranging.”

The EAP is similar to other action plans that have been adopted across the country, according to Proulx. Former Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson — who offered to help complete the action plan in June after it was put on hold due to the lack of formal plans — said it is in the city’s best interest to focus on sustainability with the community in mind.

“The city can be an example for the kind of sustainable measures that can be done in one’s household,” Peterson said.

Peterson added that the completed EAP will allow the city to apply for federal and state grants involving sustainability measures, which would not have been possible without the plan.

“You have to have a plan in place in order to apply,” she said.

This is not the first piece of legislation the city has adopted in its commitment to protect the environment. Resolutions passed in 2001, 2005 and 2009, in addition to the Local Action Plan, helped the city make its pledge to “take local action to achieve sustainability, energy conservation and climate protection goals,” according to the resolution passed Wednesday.