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News: The Greening of Cincinnati

It's our turn to help save the climate

By Gregory Flannery · September 19th, 2007 · News
  Susan Knight wants the public to help local government find ways to make Cincinnati more green.
Scott Beseler

Susan Knight wants the public to help local government find ways to make Cincinnati more green.

Forget red and blue. The color of the current political season is decidedly green, with officeholders, candidates and even corporations committing to steps to reduce the pace of climate change caused by human pollution.

Now average citizens can participate in the process. A Vision for a Green Economy is a town hall meeting Oct. 9 organized by the Blue Green Alliance, a collaboration between organized labor and environmental groups (visit www.bluegreenalliance.org). The goal of the program is to garner feedback for elected officials on creative ways Greater Cincinnati can become more green and to hear what ideas elected officials already have.

Among officials agreeing to attend are county commissioners Todd Portune, David Pepper and Pat DeWine, City Councilman Chris Bortz and a representative of Cincinnati Public Schools, according to Susan Knight, an organizer for the Sierra Club.

"I think young people and workers offering their input on how to 'green' Cincinnati is unique and, quite honestly, necessary if we are going to move forward as a community," Knight says.

The town hall will be at the Cincinnati Zoo Education Center, which is staffed by union workers and powered by clean solar energy, Knight says.

In the past two weeks Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials have focused on green issues. On Sept. 11 the board of county commissioners signed the Cool County Climate Protection Agreement, becoming the 13th county in the nation to sign. The agreement states that counties will work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 2 percent per year -- or 80 percent by 2050.

Last week Mayor Mark Mallory launched Green Cincinnati, setting energy efficiency goals for city government and beginning the process to create a citywide climate protection plan. Mallory wants to reduce the city government's electricity demand by 4 percent in one year and 10 percent in four years.

He also announced he's introducing a motion to city council that would direct the Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) to begin a citywide climate protection planning process.

"We have a moral responsibility to protect the earth, and the city of Cincinnati is going to be a leader in helping our region change," Mallory said. "We start by looking at our own operations and reducing our use of electricity."

The one-year electricity reduction would save the city an estimated $286,000 and enough energy to power 239 homes or eliminate the air pollution created by 511 cars. Reaching the four-year goal of 10 percent improvement in energy efficiency would save the city $632,000 per year, equal to 645 homes or 1,384 cars, according to Mallory.

OEQ will form a task force of government officials, business groups, advocacy groups, community organizations, utilities and other interested parties to look at energy efficiency, transportation, land use and waste management.

The timing of Vision for a Green Economy couldn't be better, Knight says. She hopes to collect lots of suggestions from the public in the next three weeks.

"You want ideas?" she says. "We'll give you ideas. This has got to be a community effort so it will create the political will to make the sweeping changes we need to get done."

VISION FOR A GREEN ECONOMY will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Cincinnati Zoo Education Center in Avondale. To make suggestions for making Greater Cincinnati more green, write to Blue Green Alliance, 515 Wyoming Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45215 or to Knight at susan.knight@sierraclub.org.


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