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County energy saving, climate measures fail to pass  

Credit:  By Martha Ellen, The Journal, www.ogd.com 17 January 2012 ~~

CANTON – St. Lawrence County legislators liked much of what they heard Monday about saving money through energy changes, but stopped short of wanting the projects included in a Climate Action Plan that was shelved earlier for discussion until at least February.

Legislators voted 7-7, with Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, absent, not to refer the draft county Climate Action Plan back to staff for revision and then disagreed over whether that meant they wanted to proceed with some of the measures.

Legislators who voted against the resolution were Republicans Mark H. Akins, Lisbon; Joseph R. Lightfoot, Ogdensburg; Alex A. MacKinnon, Fowler; Donald A. Peck, Gouverneur; Kevin D. Acres, Madrid, and Daniel F. Parker, Potsdam, and Democrat Jonathan S. Putney, Waddington.

Some legislators who voted against revising the climate plan – which has been tabled twice – said that the county would be wise to move ahead with cost-saving proposals but that they did not need to be part of a plan they find over-reaching.

But Legislator Frederick S. Morrill said telling the staff not to revise the plan sends a signal to stop any common-sense ideas about saving energy.

Legislator Gregory M. Paquin, D-Massena, advised county planner Jon R. Montan not to include in the plan the cost/benefit analysis conducted by students from St. Lawrence University, Clarkson University and SUNY Canton under the guidance of professors Stephen D. Bird and Jon R. Rosales.

“It’ll get voted down,” Mr. Paquin said. “Bring those as separate resolutions. That would be my strong recommendation.”

The plan emphasizes using renewable energy sources in place of fossil fuels when possible and identifies changes the county can make to reduce its carbon footprint, but some legislators chafe when the discussion turns to the emerging carbon market or renewable credits.

The plan encompasses climate to make the county eligible for programs or grants in the future, Mr. Montan said.

“Will it translate into lower greenhouse gases? Yes, but that’s not the primary reason the county is doing this,” he said. “It’s about saving money.”

Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said political differences about climate change should not get in the way.

“It’s not about global warming philosophy. It’s about county operations,” she said. “It’s about what we can do to save money, and by the way, it will have a small impact on climate.”

Among the measures discussed, the county has set up an internal system to make it easier for employees who want to carpool to find each other.

Students identified potential sites for solar arrays that could be built by the New York Power Authority near the Human Services Center and the county jail. The county could review the types of vehicles it buys and their fuel efficiency, optimize travel routes and consider more teleconferencing.

Source:  By Martha Ellen, The Journal, www.ogd.com 17 January 2012

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