Appalachia is waking up to the political impact of local action.
For example, Blacksburg VA and Morgantown WV joined over 350 cities and towns nationwide in recent weeks, pledging to reduce their global warming pollution. Other cities in the region are working towards similar goals. Black Mountain, NC, for example, has a Green Buildling Council initiative underway.
At a ceremony held January 24, Blacksburg, Virginia, mayor Ron Rordam received a Cool City award from the Sierra Club for signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement was a point of commitment in a process that started with a weeklong conference in August, 2006 where 30 organizations created a partnership called Sustainable Blacksburg.
Prior to the news conference, a parade of hybrid and biodiesel vehicles drove from the town hall to the press conference at the Blacksburg YMCA.
“This resolution is not just window dressing,” Rordam promised. “These are real goals that we will work to achieve.”
By signing the agreement, the town has committed to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant, to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012.
Rordam listed several steps the town has already taken to reduce global warming pollution, including switching to energy efficient traffic lights, replacing inefficient light bulbs in town office buildings with more efficient compact fluorescents, and installing programmable thermostats in municipal buildings to conserve electricity when buildings are not in use.
At the press conference, Blacksburg town council member Don Langrehr thanked the citizens of Blacksburg for their efforts to bring the resolution to the council for a vote.
“We are all now part of something larger than ourselves,” Langrehr said.
He also called on citizens to remain involved and track Blacksburg’s progress in implementing the agreement.
Aaron Barr, a Virginia Tech engineering graduate who is now working in the wind power industry, was one of the Blacksburg residents who worked to pass the resolution.
“Many of us feel overwhelmed by global warming, and wonder what we can do,” Barr said. “But you can start right here in Blacksburg, and you can start in your own home.”
Other Cool Cities in the Appalachian region include Boone and Asheville, NC; Chattanooga and Nashville, TN; Morgantown and Shepherdstown, WV; and Charlottesville, VA. The list of participating cities and more information is available at www.coolcities.us, or by contacting your local Sierra Club chapter.
Green Building Councils are another way to act locally about global problems. Western North Carolina’s Green Building Council is particularly active in the overall US activity.
Local resolutions on clean air and other legislative issues can also be effective, as the story about Voices volunteer Brenda Huggins notes on p. 10.