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December 09, 2016
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Preparing for climate change; Reducing our region’s carbon footprint

The climate change data collected locally shows evidence of spring arriving four days earlier than was once the norm (data go back to 1900), river and lake ice melting one to two weeks earlier, increasing average precipitation, more frequent extreme downpours, big storms getting bigger, repetitive loss during flood events to properties in the Upper Delaware Region, and (perhaps counter intuitively) longer intervening dry spells between precipitation events. Such changes are expected to put stress on our forests, water quality, water supplies and local agriculture; are expected to produce human health consequences; are expected to cause more weather-related power disruptions and infrastructure damage; and more.

The work of this collaboration, Common Waters, and its numerous partners and The Pinchot Institute of Conservation, is a vital contribution and opens the door to collaboration with government bodies and a variety of groups to study and plan for floodplain development and effective stormwater management, to assess policies for flow management of the Delaware River and address competing demands of the river’s millions of users. We congratulate the Upper Delaware Roundtable for connecting this collaboration with the other climate change activities happening locally, such as the work of SASD and NACL and the Town of Highland’s Weather Project.

Secondly, we would like to salute the Sullivan County Legislature for a series of actions that address the realities of climate change, including a Green Vision Statement in 2007; the establishment of an Office of Sustainable Energy (OSE) in 2008 and a Sustainability Policy Committee (SPC) in 2009; and joining the state’s Climate Smart Communities program, which it did in 2010. We further salute Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (SASD), which has been involved in this process since 2009. Founded in 2004 to promote development that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, SASD was contracted in 2009 to consult on energy management and sustainability policy for the county. Today, the county’s OSE, the legislature’s SPC and SASD are working to produce a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that, among other steps, will set specific goals for greenhouse gas reduction in the coming years. A draft of the County Measures section of the CAP is anticipated early in 2014.

SASD also works to promote energy efficiency for homes and businesses, offering assistance to reduce both energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to support the installation of green technologies and renewable energy projects that create green jobs.